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Practical Intelligence and the Virtues$
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Daniel C. Russell

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565795

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565795.001.0001

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Situations and Broad‐Based Dispositions

Situations and Broad‐Based Dispositions

(p.239) 8 Situations and Broad‐Based Dispositions
Practical Intelligence and the Virtues

Daniel C. Russell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Philosophical psychologists have told us that “situationism” is bad news for virtue ethics and virtue theory more generally. Situationism is a research paradigm in social psychology that holds that situational variables have an impact on behavior that tells against disposition-based explanations of behavior. Some philosophical psychologists have argued that since there is little evidence for psychological dispositions, and since virtue theory as such is a normative theory about such dispositions, therefore virtue theory as such is empirically misguided. And since virtue ethics presupposes some theory of the virtues, virtue ethics is empirically misguided, too, and therefore of little practical value to creatures like us. This chapter begins a sustained argument that while situationism is plausible; it is not bad news for virtue theory provided that virtues are understood as forms of responsiveness to reasons. While situationism is bad news for “dispositions” of a certain type, virtues need not and indeed should not be understood as dispositions of this type. The chapter closely examines the contrast between situationism and the more traditional research program it means to replace, namely dispositionism. It then reviews situationism as motivating a positive alternative in personality theory and some positive evidence in favor of that alternative.

Keywords:   broad-based dispositions, consistency, construal, dispositionism, personality theory, situationism, social psychology, stability, virtue theory

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