An Active Externalism about Personality

Filosofia Unisinos 24 (1):1-17 (2023)
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Abstract

People display recognizably characteristic behavioral patterns across time and situations, with a given degree of regularity. These patterns may justify the attribution of personality traits. It is arguably the commonsense view that the proper explanation of these behavioral regularities is given by intrinsic properties of the agent’s psychology. In this paper, I argue for an externalistic view of the causal basis of personality-characteristic behaviors. According to the externalistic view, the relevant behavioral regularities are better understood as the result of a systematic interaction between features internal to the agent and environmental-situational factors. Moreover, if the premise is granted that people are typically able to exercise a certain degree of control over the environmental-situational conditions they find themselves in, the resulting picture is of active sort of externalism, as people may at times engage in selection and manipulation of environmental-situational conditions as a way of managing their own behavioral tendencies.

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Federico Burdman
Universidad Alberto Hurtado

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