Integrity, Honesty, and Truth-Seeking (co-edited with Christian B. Miller), Oxford University Press (in progress).
ABSTRACT: This edited volume brings together scholars from various disciplines to explore the conceptual contours of integrity, honesty, and truth-seeking, their application in various important areas of human life, and the manner of their cultivation. Contributors include Greg Scherkoske (philosophy), Stuart Green (law), Jennifer Herdt (theology), Robert C. Roberts and Ryan West (philosophy), Janie Harden Fritz (communication and rhetorical studies), Margarita Leib and Shaul Shalvi (psychology), Steve Porter and Jason Baehr (philosophy), W. Jay Wood (philosophy), Martin Jay (history), and Phil Dow (philosophy/theology/education).
"Virtue Ethics Is Empirically Adequate: A Defense of the CAPS Response to Situationism," Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (forthcoming)..
ABSTRACT: According to situationists, the available empirical psychological data show that prevalent conceptions of virtue are ‘empirically inadequate.’ The charge is ambiguous. I begin by differentiating four families of empirical inadequacy charges, explaining the conceptual connections among the families, and showing how different situationists press different versions of the charges from each family. Then I explain how the empirical psychological model known as the ‘cognitive affective personality system,’ or ‘CAPS model,’ enables distinct responses to these varied charges. The CAPS response has come under fire, though, and I close by responding to the five main challenges raised against it.
"Anger and the Virtues: A Critical Study in Virtue Individuation," Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46:6 (2016): 877–97.
ABSTRACT: Aristotle and others suggest that a single virtue—‘good temper’—pertains specifically to anger. I argue that if good temper is a single virtue, it is constituted by aspects of a combination of other virtues. I present three categories of anger-relevant virtues—those that (potentially) dispose one to anger; those that delay, mitigate, and qualify anger; and those required for effortful anger control—and show how virtues in each category make distinct contributions to good temper. In addition to clarifying the relationship between anger and the virtues, my analysis has theoretical implications for virtue individuation more generally, and practical implications for character cultivation.
"Natural Epistemic Defects and Corrective Virtues" (with Robert C. Roberts), Synthese 192:8 (2015): 2557–76.
ABSTRACT: Cognitive psychologists have uncovered a number of natural tendencies to systematic errors in thinking. This paper proposes some ways that intellectual character virtues might help correct these sources of epistemic unreliability. We begin with an overview of some insights from recent work in dual-process cognitive psychology regarding ‘biases and heuristics’, and argue that the dozens of hazards the psychologists catalogue arise from combinations and specifications of a small handful of more basic patterns of thinking. We expound four of these, and sketch how they conspire to produce the myriad biases, heuristics, and illusions. We then offer accounts of two character virtues—self-vigilance and intellectual vitality—and explain how these virtues could help correct our error-prone thinking. The self-vigilant person appreciates her vulnerability to natural epistemic defects, is on the watch for cues to the working of these possible error-makers, and intelligently acts to correct for them. The intellectually vital person is naturally or has learned to be energetic, active, alert, attentive, and inquisitive, contrary to the natural tendency to cognitive laziness. We suggest that these intellectual virtues, like the moral virtues, will cluster in the personality, and will tend to be mutually reinforcing and mutually recruiting, even as each has its own corrective function.
"Contempt and the Cultivation of Character: Two Models," Journal of Religious Ethics 43:3 (2015): 493–519.
ABSTRACT: Macalester Bell urges the cultivation of apt contempt as the best response to what she calls “the vices of superiority” (arrogance, hypocrisy, racism, and the like). In this essay, I sketch two character profiles. The first—the ideal contemnor—paradigmatically answers the vices of superiority with contempt. The second—the ideal Christian neighbor—is marked by humility and love, and answers the vices of superiority in non-contemptuous ways. I argue that the latter character rivals (and may even outshine) the former as a fitting moral response to the vices of superiority. Furthermore, I argue that the two character profiles are incompatible, so one cannot jointly cultivate humble love and contempt. Given contempt’s nastiness, and the alternative resources available for answering the vices of superiority, I suggest one should focus one’s character-formation efforts on the cultivation of humility and love.
"Perceiving God through Natural Beauty" (with Adam C. Pelser), Faith and Philosophy 32:3 (2015): 293–312.
ABSTRACT: In Perceiving God, William Alston briefly suggests the possibility of perceiving God indirectly through the perception of another object. Following recent work by C. Stephen Evans, we argue that Thomas Reid’s notion of “natural signs” helpfully illuminates how people can perceive God indirectly through natural beauty. First, we explain how some natural signs enable what Alston labels “indirect perception.” Second, we explore how certain emotions make it possible to see both beauty and the excellence of the minds behind beauty. Finally, we explain how aesthetic emotions can involve indirect perception of God via the natural sign of natural beauty.
"Faith as a Passion and Virtue," Res Philosophica 90:4 (October 2013): 565–87.
ABSTRACT: The Christian tradition affirms that faith is a virtue. Faith is a multifaceted reality, though, encompassing such diverse aspects as belief, trust, obedience, and more. Given this complexity, it is no surprise that various thinkers emphasize different aspects of faith in accounting for faith’s status as a virtue. In this paper I join Søren Kierkegaard in arguing that faith is (in part) a passion, and that faith is a virtue (in part) because it disposes the person of faith to proper emotional responses. The paper has three sections. First, I lay the groundwork for understanding faith as a passion by explaining the relationship between passions and emotions. Drawing on the works of Kierkegaard, Merold Westphal, and Robert C. Roberts, I distinguish two senses of passion, and show how these senses are related to each other and to faith. The second section uses the account of faith developed in Concluding Unscientific Postscript to develop the idea that passional faith is a deep, identity-forming attachment to God. Finally, I explicate the idea that passional faith, so understood, functions as an emotion disposition. I do so by expounding part one of Kierkegaard’s Christian Discourses, which explores some of the ways in which faith disposes one away from certain emotions (what Kierkegaard calls “the cares of the pagans”) and toward other emotions.
"Getting Rid of Inappropriate Anger," in Anger, Christian Reflection 53 (Waco, TX: Baylor, 2014): 21–9.
ABSTRACT: The Apostle Paul instructs believers to “get rid” of anger (Colossians 3:8) and to “put away … all bitterness and wrath and anger” (Ephesians 4:31). These Pauline warnings are indicative of a pervasive theme in Scripture: that much anger is not righteous and must be “gotten rid of,” and we have an active role to play in getting rid of it. There is a gap, though, between knowing that we should eliminate inappropriate anger and knowing how to do so. My aim in this essay is to help fill this gap by offering some practical guidance to those who want to heed Paul’s anger-ridding exhortation.
(In progress) "Jesus and the Virtues of Pride" (with Robert C. Roberts), in Pride, ed. J. Adam Carter and Emma C. Gordon (Rowman & Littlefield).
ABSTRACT: The dominant conception of the virtue of humility makes it essentially a proper self-assessment — either broadly moral, or intellectual, with emphasis on one’s limitations. Roberts and Wood (2007) and Roberts (forthcoming a and b) have developed a more ancient conception based in the New Testament presentation of Jesus of Nazareth as a paradigm of humility. On that conception, humility is not a self-assessment at all, but a lack of certain self-inflating concerns (what speakers of English call self-importance) that Roberts calls “the vices of pride.” Humility can then take several forms, depending on which of the vices of pride it is the absence of. It has recently come to our attention that Jesus models not only the virtue of humility, but also the virtue of pride, and that each of the vices of pride can be construed as having a virtue counterpart that can also go by the name of pride. The present paper will clarify a small handful of these traits with special attention to their intellectual specifications: Arrogance and its counterpart Entitlement Serenity; Domination and its counterpart Personal Authority; Hyper-Autonomy and its counterpart Secure Agency; Grandiosity and its counterpart Aspiration. We will argue that the vices of intellectual pride are vices, in part because they diminish our likelihood of acquiring the intellectual goods of knowledge, justified belief, and understanding, and in part because they degrade our humanity; and that the virtues of intellectual pride are virtues, in part because they increase our prospects of acquiring the intellectual goods and in part because they constitute excellences in living a human life. We will acknowledge that the identification of both the intellectual goods and the goodness of intellectual living depends on specific metaphysical commitments, but will argue that some metaphysical commitments are broadly enough shared to secure significant agreement about the vices and virtues that we treat here.
Review of Kevin Timpe and Craig A. Boyd (eds.), Virtues and Their Vices (OUP, 2014), in Journal of Moral Philosophy 14:2 (2017): 229–323.