Character, virtue and situationism




This text intends to point out aspects of the Aristotelian moral agency, which presupposes that there is something, the character, which supports the existence of strong lines from the point of view of behavior, morals, of our moral constitution, and which ends up defining the way in which we act, and therefore operating as something that really defines us. This notion of character is the majority among Aristotle’s commentators, although different interpretations can be defended about the scope of this character disposition in Aristotle. This conception has spread over time, but it has been questioned - at least its more traditional reading - by recent studies on social psychology, which attenuates or rejects the idea of a character that supports our moral agency, stating that this is not the case, but the situations that determine the action. From this perspective, we especially have Nisbet, Ross, Doris and Harman, who, based on the results concerning experimental social psychology, even claim that there would not be what we understand by character, which would imply a serious problem for the well-known ethics of virtues, as this requires, in most of its formulations, the idea of an absolutely robust character (Harman), which would allow us to predict the behavior of an agent in a given circumstance (Doris).

Keywords: Aristotle, character, virtue, situationism.

Author Biography

João Hobuss, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Brazil

Professor at Universidade Federal de Pelotas - UFPel. Research Fellow CNPq.