Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 461–491

Saving Character


DOI: 10.1007/s10677-006-9010-1

Cite this article as:
Wielenberg, E.J. Ethic Theory Moral Prac (2006) 9: 461. doi:10.1007/s10677-006-9010-1


In his recent book Lack of Character, Jon Doris argues that people typically lack character (understood in a particular way). Such a claim, if correct, would have devastating implications for moral philosophy and for various human moral projects (e.g. character development). I seek to defend character against Doris's challenging attack. To accomplish this, I draw on Socrates, Aristotle, and Kant to identify some of the central components of virtuous character. Next, I examine in detail some of the central experiments in social psychology upon which Doris's argument is based. I argue that, properly understood, such experiments reveal differences in the characters of their subjects, not that their subjects lack character altogether. I conclude with some reflections on the significance of such experiments and the importance of character.


Aristotle character Doris Kant situationism social psychology Socrates virtue 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyDePauw UniversityGreencastleUSA

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