Character, narcissism, and the rarity thesis
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 13:37 by Jonathan Robinson
The Rarity Thesis (RT) states that on the basis of evidence from psychological research we are justified in believing that possession of the Aristotelian virtues is very rare. The major concern is that RT then strips virtue ethics of its egalitarianism, explanatory power, and predictive power. These are serious charges. I will focus on Christian Miller's endorsement of RT as it pertains to vice. Working with Miller's criteria, and as a case study, I will argue that persons with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) possess traits which can be understood as character traits and, more specifically, vices. Armed with this information, I will question the force of Miller's statement 'most people do not have any of the vices to any degree' and suggest that vices are not comparatively rare and may not even be rare simpliciter. While I cannot speak for virtue, the existence of vicious traits (exemplified at least in NPD) weakens the force of RT and, in this form, RT is not a serious threat to virtue ethics.