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Why We Disagree About Human Nature$
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Elizabeth Hannon and Tim Lewens

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198823650

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198823650.001.0001

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Trait Bin and Trait Cluster Accounts of Human Nature

Trait Bin and Trait Cluster Accounts of Human Nature

(p.40) 2 Trait Bin and Trait Cluster Accounts of Human Nature
Why We Disagree About Human Nature

Grant Ramsey

Oxford University Press

Conceptions of human nature fall under two broad categories, trait bin accounts and trait cluster accounts. Trait bin accounts take there to be a special bin of traits, one composed of all and only those traits constituting our nature. For those arguing for a trait bin account of human nature, the challenge is to articulate what it is that marks a trait as being inside or outside the bin. I argue that trait bin approaches to human nature are misguided, that there is no good way of dividing human traits into those that are a part of our nature and those that are not. Instead, I argue for a trait cluster account, which sees human nature as the patterns of trait expression within and across human life histories and better aligns the concept of human nature with the human sciences.

Keywords:   human nature, essentialism, behaviour, trait bin account, trait cluster account

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