Stoic News

By Dave Kelly

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Metapsychology Online Book Reviews - Lack of Character

"The main theme of Doris’s book is that character trait attribution relies on a common misunderstanding about character. If empirical psychology is right, we are prone to assign all sorts of character traits to others even on the thinnest thread of a single instance of behavior. So we should not be surprised to learn that empirical psychology tells us we usually err in character attribution. But we may be more reluctant to agree that even in the most durable of friendships and the longest of relationships we are wrong to suppose our friends and lovers have general character traits like honesty, reliability, impishness or friendliness. Doris argues that any sort of trait attribution is inaccurate, but not because we simply fail to understand what each others’ characters really are. Rather, character attribution will always fail because people do not have general character traits. All moral theory and all empirical psychology is simply erroneous if it presumes that persons possess characters: we lack character."


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