Virtue development and psychology's fear of normativity

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10 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the idea—rife in various recent theories in moral education—that virtue ethicists, psychologists, and educators interested in the cultivation of character should pool their resources in order to launch wide-ranging initiatives in virtue development. I uncover the roots of this idea and maintain that the reason why the desired cooperation has not yet come about lies primarily in psychology's failure to deliver the required empirical evidence about the ingredients of a morally good life. I trace the origin of this failure to certain mistaken assumptions made by psychologists—in particular to their conflation of the “is–ought distinction” with the “fact–value distinction”—leading to an unreasonable fear of normativity. I suggest how, by overcoming this fear and entering the field of factual moral values (as distinct from moral prescriptions), psychologists could make a lasting contribution to the development of virtue. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)103-118
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of theoretical and philosophical psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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