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Philosophers and psychologists have been hard at work trying to unlock the mysteries of our characters. Unfortunately, their answers have been all over the map. According to one position, every single person has all of the moral virtues, such as modesty and compassion, although to varying degrees. Yet according to another position, no one has any character traits at all since they are simply illusions and do not exist. Hence not one person is honest or compassionate or courageous. And between these extremes, there are plenty of intermediate views.
Christian B. Miller argues that not one of these leading positions accurately reflects what most of us are like today. He explores the implications of the Mixed Trait framework-a theory of moral character developed in his previous book, Moral Character: An Empirical Theory. Mixed traits have both morally positive aspects (hence they are not vices) along with morally negative aspects (hence they are not virtues). Miller engages with the other leading positions on the empirical nature of character: situationism, the CAPS model, the Big Five model, and the local trait model. He goes on to apply the Mixed Trait framework to several important topics in ethics, especially the development of an error theory about judgments of character and the challenge faced by virtue ethics from the widespread lack of virtue.
Christian Miller is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University. His main areas of research are meta-ethics, moral psychology, moral character, action theory, and philosophy of religion. He is also the author of Moral Character: An Empirical Theory (OUP 2013), and the editor of TheContinuum Companion to Ethics (Continuum 2011) and Essays in the Philosophy of Religion (OUP 2006). His work has appeared in such journals as Nous, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophical Studies, Philosophical Psychology, The Journal of Ethics, Journal of Ethics and SocialPhilosophy, and Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion. He is the director of The Character Project (www.thecharacterproject.com), which is funded by a substantial grant for the study of character from the John Templeton Foundation.
Table of Contents
Preface Part One: The Mixed Trait Framework 1. The Conceptual Background 2. The Framework of Mixed Traits 3. Illustrating the Framework of Mixed Traits: Cheating Part Two: Engaging Other Frameworks 4. Situationism 5. The CAPS Model 6. The Big Five Part Three: Applying the Framework 7. Errors about Character? Some Implications for Meta-Ethics 8. Trouble for Virtue Ethics? Some Implications for Normative Ethics Part Four: The Next Step 9. Looking Forward Works Cited Index