Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Iakovos Vasiliou

Committee Members

Rosalind Hursthouse

Jesse Prinz

Subject Categories

Ethics and Political Philosophy


neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics, patience, courage, Aristotle, John McDowell


This dissertation, Construing Character: Virtue as a Cognitive-Affective Processing System, develops an empirically plausible account of neo-Aristotelian virtue based on the psychological model of personality as a cognitive-affective processing system. The psychological model holds that an individual’s subjective construal of a situation is crucial to understanding that individual’s behavior. The account of virtue developed in the dissertation begins, therefore, with an elaboration of the distinctive way in which the virtuous person construes situations, which is used to develop and defend a McDowellian view of practical reasoning. Aristotle’s method of individuating the virtues is defended and employed to outline a framework of ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ accounts of individual virtues, where the thin account specifies the field of concern of the virtue and grounds the account in an Aristotelian notion of excellence, while the thick account elaborates the particular cognitive-affective elements that constitute the virtue. The account is applied to the virtues of courage and patience in order to show how the action guidance and assessment capabilities of virtue ethics remain intact.