Character, Culture, and Humean Virtue Ethics
For the past two decades, the empirical adequacy of virtue ethics has been challenged by proponents of situationism and defended by a variety of virtue ethicists, working both in Western and in Eastern philosophy. Advocates of Humean virtue ethics, however, have (rather surprisingly) had little to say in this debate. In this chapter, I attempt to help fill this gap in Hume scholarship in three ways. First, I elucidate insights both from Hume and from his commentators to explain why a Humean conception of character fits well with the kind of social psychological evidence on which the situationist challenge depends. Second, I analyze insights from recent Confucian responses to the situationist challenge in order to highlight the relationship between culture and character development. I then use these insights to elucidate a similar but underdeveloped aspect of Hume’s virtue ethics. Third, and finally, I conclude by suggesting the significance of the relationship between character and culture for future research on Humean virtue ethics.