The psychology research at WFU will address the following key questions:
- Do the self-identified morally exceptional differ from others?
- What are lay conceptions of the morally exceptional?
- How do the morally exceptional think about morality?
- Do the morally exceptional resist the power of situations?
- How do morally exceptional individuals function in daily life?
- Do the morally exceptional identify with all humanity?
- Do the morally exceptional flourish?
During the third year of the project Christian B. Miller will write a research monograph provisionally entitled Improving Character: Insights from Psychology, Philosophy, and Theology. This book will complete a trilogy of works on character by Professor Miller, joining Moral Character: An Empirical Theory (Oxford, 2013) and Character and Moral Psychology (Oxford, 2014).
Professor Knobel, the theology director for the project, proposes to examine the notion of moral exceptionalism in light of her research into the notion of infused virtue. Since the Christian tradition has historically held that God bestows (i.e. “infuses”) virtues on man along with the gift of grace, it follows that all those who have grace also possess infused virtues. But clearly there is a wide variation in the degrees of moral excellence that believing Christians possess. So, if all those who possess grace possess infused virtue, is there any content to the notion that one such individual is “more virtuous” than another? If so, how should such a notion be understood? How, if at all, do the infused virtues possessed by morally exceptional individual differ from the infused virtues possessed by others? What light can the notion of morally exceptionalism shed on the notion of infused virtue and vice versa?