The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 365–392

Social Psychology and Virtue Ethics

  • Christian Miller

DOI: 10.1023/A:1026136703565

Cite this article as:
Miller, C. The Journal of Ethics (2003) 7: 365. doi:10.1023/A:1026136703565


Several philosophers have recently claimed to have discovered a new and rather significant problem with virtue ethics. According to them, virtue ethics generates certain expectations about the behavior of human beings which are subject to empirical testing. But when the relevant experimental work is done in social psychology, the results fall remarkably short of meeting those expectations. So, these philosophers think, despite its recent success, virtue ethics has far less to offer to contemporary ethical theory than might have been initially thought. I argue that there are plausible ways in which virtue ethicists can resist arguments based on empirical work in social psychology. In the first three sections of the paper, I reconstruct the line of reasoning being used against virtue ethics by looking at the recent work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. The remainder of the paper is then devoted both to responding to their challenge as well as to briefly sketching a positive account of character trait possession.

character traits Gilbert Harman John Doris situationism social psychology virtue ethics 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Notre Dame, 100 Malloy HallNotre DameUSA

Personalised recommendations