Abstract: This article argues that ordinary virtue trait attributions presuppose the existence of realistic traits that fall short of, for example, Aristotelian ideals and that debate about the existence of virtue traits should be reoriented in the light of this fact. After clarifying and motivating that basic thesis, we discuss what the existing psychological research shows about the existence of realistic traits and how future psychological research could be designed to show more. Our first conclusion is that current psychological research (weakly) supports virtue trait optimism not skepticism. Our second conclusion is that psychologists will need to adopt new models and conduct new studies before they can convincingly answer questions about the existence, development and normative significance of virtue traits. In short, we argue that there is no mature science of virtue today but that we can and should develop one. We end by presenting our STRIVE-4 Model, which is designed to guide future work.
Citation: Cokelet, B., & Fowers, B. J. (2019). Realistic virtues and how to study them: Introducing the STRIVE-4 model. Journal of Moral Education, 48, 7-26. DOI: 10.1080/03057240.2018.1528971.