Home WakeSpace Scholarship › Open Access Fund Publications

Challenging Doris’ attack on aggregation: Why we are not left “completely in the dark” about global virtues

Open Access Fund Publications

Item Files

Item Details

abstract
Aggregation (the process of collecting multiple observations of behavior and averaging them before predicting behavior) shows that virtue-relevant behavior is indeed highly predictable, and that individual differences in global virtues do indeed exist. Aggregation is a key response to the situationist argument against the existence of broad virtues. However, a concern with aggregation is that, because it is an average, the specifics of what are included in that average matter. In particular, if heinous actions could be included in the average, then aggregates cannot provide enough confidence that the holders of high aggregates (e.g., highly compassionate people) have not conducted heinous actions and thus cannot provide enough confidence that such people qualify as virtuous. Doris (2002) has challenged aggregation with this concern, and no one has responded substantively to this challenge. If Doris’ challenge is in fact correct, then the situationist argument against the existence of broad virtues stands. In the article, we present a full response to this concern. We argue that aggregation does not in fact allow heinous exceptions, because aggregates do indeed predict extreme single behaviors very well. In fact, aggregates do allow confidence that holders of high aggregates do not commit heinous actions. Thus, Doris’ rejection of the aggregation solution does not defeat aggregation, aggregation continues to stand in the defense of global virtues, and the situationist argument does not threaten the existence and predictive power of global virtues. Models of traits that rely on aggregates, such as Whole Trait Theory (Fleeson and Jayawickreme 2015), may provide useful post-situationist models of virtues.
subject
Situationism
Aggregation
Morally exceptional
Virtue
Traits
contributor
Fleeson, W. (author)
Jayawickreme, E. (author)
date
2020-03-09T13:22:41Z (accessioned)
2020-03-09T13:22:41Z (available)
5/5/17 (issued)
identifier
Fleeson, W., & Jayawickreme, E. (2017). Challenging Doris’ attack on aggregation: Why we are not left “completely in the dark” about global virtues. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 20(3), 519-536. (citation)
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10677-017-9810-5 (doi)
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/96030 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Springer
rights
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ (uri)
source
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
title
Challenging Doris’ attack on aggregation: Why we are not left “completely in the dark” about global virtues
type
Article

Usage Statistics