Moral Character and Social Science Research

James Montmarquet a1
a1 Tennessee State University


Gilbert Harman and John Doris (among others) have maintained that experimental studies of human behaviour give good grounds for denying the very existence of moral character. This research, according to Harman and Doris, shows human behaviour to be dependent not on character but mainly on one's ‘situation.’ My paper develops a number of criticisms of this view, among them that social science experiments are ill-suited to study character, insofar as they do not estimate the role of character in continuously shaping the direction of one's life—including what situations one is apt to get into in the first place.