more from Gilbert Harman

Single Idea 5124

[catalogued under 23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / e. Character]

Full Idea

If Herbert is disposed to not speak in history class (but not other subjects), and explanation of this is different from his avoidance of roller coaster rides, then these two dispositions are not special cases of a single character trait.

Gist of Idea

If a person's two acts of timidity have different explanations, they are not one character trait


Gilbert Harman (Moral Philosophy meets social psychology [1999], 10.2)

Book Reference

Harman,Gilbert: 'Explaining Value and Other Essays' [OUP 2000], p.167

A Reaction

A basic Harman argument for denying the existence of character (and hence of virtues). I just say that character traits are more complex than his caricature of them. If I keep imagining disaster and humiliation for myself, that is a character trait.