Virtue Measurement: Theory and Applications – Nancy E. Snow (2020)

Abstract: Our primary aim in this paper is to sketch the account of virtue that we think most amenable to virtue measurement. Our account integrates Whole Trait Theory (WTT) from psychology with a broadly neo-Aristotelian approach to virtue. Our account is ‘ecumenical’ in that it has appeal for a wide range of virtue ethicists. According to WTT, a personality trait is composed of a set of situation-specific trait-appropriate responses, which are produced when certain “social-cognitive” mechanisms (cognitive/affective/motivational processes and dispositions) are triggered by the perception of trait-relevant stimuli in a person’s external and/or internal environment. Moving from this starting point, we discuss our conception of a virtue and respects in which it both aligns with and diverges from Aristotle’s conception. We discuss roles for practical wisdom and motivation in our conception of virtue, and highlight respects in which WTT provides an amenable empirical framework into which key Aristotelian elements can be integrated. We conclude with brief remarks about our conception as an empirically adequate and measurable account.


Citation: 2020, “Virtue Measurement: Theory and Applications,” co-authored with Jennifer Cole Wright and Michael T. Warren, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23: 277-293.