Situationism and the Concept of a Situation



Abstract: The concept of a situation underlying the debate between moral situationists and dispositionists conceals various underexplored complexities. Some of those issues have been engaged recently in the so-called psychology of situations, but they have been slow to receive attention in mainstream philosophy. I invoke various distinctions among situations, and show how situationists have selectively chosen certain types of situations that, for conceptual reasons, skew the argument in their favour. I introduce the concept of a ‘virtue-calibrated situation’, and argue that if the person–situation debate is to move forward in philosophy as it has in psychology, it must focus on such situations. I bring to bear evidence from analytic and continental philosophy, as well as from social and personality psychology.