Rachana Kamtekar on social psychology and virtue ethics


[Posted by BR]

Reading some recent reviews of Appiah’s Experiments in Ethics — such as the one from NDPR we posted a few days ago — has put me in mind of a wonderful essay that Bridget Clarke (author of a dissertation on virtue ethics which we posted the full text of here) recommended to me a few years ago. I had asked Bridget how proponents of virtue ethics respond to philosophers (like Gilbert Harman) who think the findings of social psychology (such as the Milgram experiment) make the very concept of character untenable. Bridget immediately recommended an essay by Rachana Kamtekar (Philosophy, University of Arizona), entitled “Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character,” which was published by the journal Ethics in 2004.

Kamtekar’s essay will likely already be familiar to those of you who specialize in ethics, but it seems to me that her compelling response to empirically-based challenges to the concept of character will be of great interest even to our readers who do not work primarily on moral philosophy. And so, in case this essay is unfamiliar to any of you, I thought I’d pass Bridget’s recommendation along. Below is a preview of the essay’s first two pages. To read the rest, click here.

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