Circumstance, Character or Both? The Intersection of Situationist Social Psychology, Virtue Ethics and Virtue-Ethical Moral Education

  • Author / Creator
    Finnie, Bianca K
  • Situationist social psychology challenges the existence of robust character traits of the sort moral virtues are taken to be. This problematizes a virtue-ethical moral education project which aims to develop good character and thereby improve “interpersonal human relations” (Carr 1999, p.29). Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe that the virtue-ethical concept of character can withstand the critique from situationist social psychology in such a way that the theoretical basis of virtue-ethical moral education (VEME) is not wholly undermined. Moreover, there is reason to believe that VEME may be educationally valuable as it encourages students to be critical and reflective, but also caring and creative, and it does so while trying to develop good character. Consequently, there is reason to believe that experimentally investing in VEME as a way of improving relations among people may be fruitful. However, as the situationist literature suggests, situations do indeed have the power to overwhelm virtuous dispositions and the sensitivities required to recognise a situation calling for a virtuous response. Furthermore the cognitive-affective personality system (CAPS) theory suggests that the details of situations and the meanings that situations have for people play a significant role in virtuous character and action. Given the power of situations, it is reasonable to believe that the insights of situationism and CAPS theory should be taken into account when creating social programmes, such as VEME, that aim to improve interpersonal human relations. Therefore, situation selection and institution development (as suggested by the situationists) should go hand in hand with VEME that is sensitive to CAPS theory when trying to improve “interpersonal human relations” (Carr 1999, p.29).

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2014
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Schmitter, Amy (Philosophy)
    • Nye, Howard (Philosophy)
    • Griener, Glenn (Philosophy and Public Health Sciences)