Construing Character: Virtue as a Cognitive-Affective Processing System


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation develops an empirically plausible account of neo-Aristotelian virtue based on the psychological model of personality as a cognitive-affective processing system. The psychological model holds that an individual’s subjective construal of a situation is crucial to understanding that individual’s behavior. The account of virtue developed in this dissertation begins, therefore, with an elaboration of the distinctive way in which the virtuous person construes situations. Aristotle’s method of individuating the virtues is employed to outline a framework of “thin” and “thick” accounts of individual virtues, where the former specifies the field of concern of the virtue and grounds the account in an Aristotelian notion of excellence, while the latter elaborates the particular cognitive-affective elements that constitute the virtue. As an example, the account is applied to the virtue of courage in order to show how the action guidance and assessment capabilities of virtue ethics remain intact.