John Doris Essay On Situationism And The Holocaust Philosophy Essay

555 words - 3 pages

Situationism: the theory that human behavior is more so determined by surrounding circumstances than by personal qualities. A philosophical situationist, John Doris, in “Lack of Moral Character” expresses that one’s situation is more prominent than their personal dispositions. This theory discusses the social psychology behind the ethical concept of character and ways that human behavior is inconsistent with certain situations. Doris uses a variety of experiments in which the subjects are exposed to events that determines society’s reactions in situational pressures to support his theory. He finds that the lack of virtue amongst the majority of the population is not influenced by their moral character, but by simple daily traits such as good-mood, greedy-mood, and being in-a-hurry. Situational pressures force individuals to act in ways that conflict with their personal virtues.
Throughout the Holocaust, ordinary citizens conformed to the standards of the German Army by isolating and oppressing the Jewish population in any way possible. Even in the presence of these situational pressures, there were considerable amounts of instances where non-Jewish individuals and groups risked their own safety by saving Jews from being persecuted and sent to concentration camps. One such act of bravery was in the case of Oskar Schindler where he employed hundreds of Jews as a way to save them from the inevitable suffering they would have endured in concentration camps. Such virtuous acts seemingly contradict John Doris’s argument that situational pressures affect individuals’ actions. Engaging in these heroic acts by these individuals where “one person helped and her neighbor did not” (Doris, 56), the question arises as to whether one’s situation truly has as much influence as situationism claims. In retrospect, the rescuers had a...

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