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[Xmca-l] Appeal for help



So, I am assuming you are still viewing those virtues as equally
"deep-seated" as in traditional virtue theory, but attributes of
culture/context as opposed to character/individual? Because it might be
necessary to examine that concept of deep-seatedness itself, and how it
might change in this new frame of reference. The popular juxtaposition with
character is "situationism" a la Walter Mischel, a somewhat watered-down
version of context which has often been assumed to be shallower or more
unstable. But your juxtaposition of project would turn this on its head.
What does it look like for a virtue to be deep-seated within a developing
project, rather than a developing individual? It could be interesting to
observe how the very meaning of "virtue" changes with your new paradigm,
not just the implications for human activity.

Another question is whether you are only interested in moral degeneration,
or also moral degeneration/growth with change in context. I am thinking of
The Wire, Season 3, where the experiment to legalize drugs in "Hamsterdam"
generates challenges and projects that have the effect of making certain
characters become more virtuous while others degenerate.

I wish I could "collaborate" with you on this project! It feels very close
to my interests....Although I am undoubtedly more individual-centered.

If you're willing to delve into mainstream personality psychology as it
relates to *traits* not virtues,  the classic person-in-situation,
cross-cultural research is a series of studies by Mischel and Shoda. Brian
Little has written a lot about "personal projects" and how they shape
people in a way that might provide an interesting individualistic foil to
what you intend by "project". The most large-scale investigation into moral
character from the empirical psych standpoint was recently spearheaded by
Christian Miller at Wake Forest University (thecharacterproject.com).  His
brand new project is www.moralbeacons.org. I should add that some of this
research looks bland and terrible.

There is a lot of controversy about how to conceptualize virtue and
character in current analytic philosophy, especially in the field of action
theory and virtue epistemology; much of this has surfaced as empirical
research in the so-called "experimental philosophy" movement. Mark Alfano
came out with a book "Character as Moral Fiction" arguing that virtues are
social constructs that become self-fulfilling prophecies driven by future
possibility and social practices; this might interface somewhat with your
interest. There is an interdisciplinary collection coming out in the fall
edited by Iskra Fileva titled "Questions of Character" that may hit upon
relevant themes.

Finally, the "strong relational ontology" movement within theoretical psych
applies Aristotlean virtue ethics in the context of community and shared
obligation. e.g. Brent Slife, Frank Richardson, Blaine Fowers.

This might all be way off base from what you are looking for, but thought
I'd throw some of it out there. I could always send specific materials on
request.

Best, Chris


On Tuesday, July 5, 2016, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Comrade and friends, I need some help.
>
> I am setting about developing a new approach to virtue ethics. Virtues are
> everywhere taken to be deep-seated attributes of a person's character; my
> aim is to make the starting point instead from virtues defined as
> deep-seated attributes of a project, which you can take to mean "social
> context" or "system of activity" if you wish. I don't need advice about
> issues and problems of ethics, but it is in in the nature of virtue ethics
> that it always has strong implications for psychology as well as social
> theory, to the extent that I think I can make a great deal of progress by
> calling on psychological data.
>
> Can people point me to research(ers) about how a person's character
> changes with social context (e.g. home/work), any evidence of the
> well-known phenomenon in which a person promoted above the ability suffers
> a moral degeneration; any suitable and reliable data about the differing
> character (not just preferences or cognition, but virtues) of people from
> one culture or another? or similar information about changes in a person's
> character following their emigration to another country?
>
> URLs appreciated, or whole books, I don't have access to a university
> library or JSTOR.
>
> Thanks
>
> Andy
>
> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> Andy Blunden
> http://home.mira.net/~andy
> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
>