It is commonly assumed that character traits, or virtues and vices, are dispositions of persons that cause behavior. This paper rejects this view that character traits, or virtues and vices, are dispositions. Instead, it argues that character traits are constituted by narratives. This important alternative to the dispositional view combines a narrative view of character traits with the power to cause behavior. This view improves upon the summary view of character traits found in psychology literature because it retains the causal link between character trait and behavior. This paper argues that there are two ways in which narratives can be powers, causing behavior in the agent. First, it argues that the construction of a self-narrative can inform and direct how the person wishes to behave in the future. Second, it argues that self-narratives often give rise to an emotion and that emotion can in turn motivate further action.


Additional Information

pp. 67-82
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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