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[Xmca-l] Re: Appeal for help

Such a rich collection of connections, Christopher! Thank you. A lot of following up to do. !

"Project" for me is very deep notwithstanding being always developing. Yes, flowering as well as degenerating is of interest, and the Wire episode is certainly illustrative. I think possibly that growing scepticism about the notion of character may be positive for my approach. ""strong relational ontology" movement within theoretical psych applies Aristotlean virtue ethics in the context of community and shared obligation" almost sums up my project, so I'll definitely follow up this group.

The project is all about how to make a better world, Christopher. I am already locked in with a collaborator at this stage, but I wouldn't rule it out in the future given the evidence of your interests in this message.

Thank you!


Andy Blunden
On 6/07/2016 4:15 AM, Christopher Schuck wrote:
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 <http://thecharacterproject.com>). His brand new project is www.moralbeacons.org <http://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.



-- ------------------------------------------------------------
    Andy Blunden
    http://home.mira.net/~andy <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy>