Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior / Edition 1 available in Paperback
This book is a provocative contribution to contemporary ethics and moral psychology, challenging fundamental assumptions about character dating to Aristotle. John Doris draws on an array of social scientific research, especially experimental social psychology, to argue that people often grossly overestimate the behavioral impact of character and grossly underestimate the behaviorial impact of situations. Circumstance, Doris concludes, often has extraordinary influence on what people do, whatever sort of character they may appear to have. He then considers the implications of this observation for a range of issues in ethics, arguing that with more realistic picture effect, cognition, and motivation, moral psychology can support more compelling ethical theories and more humane ethical practices.
|Publisher:||Cambridge University Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.63(d)|
About the Author
John Doris is Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Table of Contents
Preface: a renaissance of virtue; 1. Joining the hunt; 2. Character and consistency; 3. Moral character, moral behavior; 4. The fragmentation of character; 5. Judging character; 6. From psychology to ethics; 7. Situation and responsibility; 8. Is there anything to be ashamed of?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a thorough enquiry about some current psychological theories concerning human character. Based on a wide spectrum of empirical research, John Doris --a philosopher-- argues that there is no such a thing as a "good" or "bad" character. Very normal people are capable of doing horrible things, if the circumstances prompt them to do so. Some classical experiments, as Milgram's research in 1968, make a persuading point about that. Milgram invited many voluntaries to cooperate in a psychological experiment, apparently intended to discover unveil the role of pain in learning processes. The voluntaries were asked to inflict electrical shocks in their human "guinea pigs". In fact, the purpose of Milgram's research, unknown to the voluntaries, was to measure their propensity to obey orders that in practice were equivalent to inflict torture in other human beings. The dismal results of this research were that a vast majority of people, notwithstanding their moral patterns and normal behaviour, were quick to behave as torturers. John Doris' book discusses at length the philosophical implications of experiments like these, with an open eye to all attempts to dismiss Milgram's conclusions. It is a fascinating, witty and disturbing book.