DORIS - Isen and Levin’s Feeling Good and Helping Finding...

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DORIS Doris understands virtue theory to be premised on the idea that there are certain personality traits that the virtuous agent possesses: they are brave, just, generous etc. Virtue theory could be understood either as a descriptive claim—virtuous acts do in fact stem from the exhibition of these virtuous personality traits—or as a normative claim—virtuous acts should stem from the exhibition of these traits, even if in fact nobody is virtuous enough to possess them. His challenge is that social psychology has shown that there are no personality traits; or at least, that they are so weak that they cannot be usefully employed in explaining action. FOUR FAMOUS STUDIES (SUMMARIZED IN KAMTEKAR) Hartshorn and May’s Cheating, Stealing and Lying Low correlation between cheating, stealing and lying behavior. Milgram’s Obedience to Authority 26 out of 40 in the initial study continued to the limit.
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Unformatted text preview: Isen and Levin’s Feeling Good and Helping Finding a dime in the phone booth increases helping behavior Darley and Batson’s Good Samaritans Being in a hurry decreases helping behavior These studies certainly show that circumstance is a good predictor of behavior. Do they show that character is not? The first and the fourth address this most explicitly. Doris concludes that the descriptive claims of virtue theory are false. He further holds that the normative claims are unhelpful. One would do better suggesting that people be more aware of the influence of situation, the better to confront it. (Kamtekar objects that we cannot always avoid bad situations; but that seems unfair to Doris. Avoidance is only one strategy that is suggested by situationism; another is just the awareness that one’s actions are likely to be corrupted by circumstance.)...
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