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Gilbert Harman argues that the warrant for the lay attribution of character traits is completely undermined by the "fundamental attribution error" (FAE). He takes it to have been established by social psychologists, that the FAE pervades ordinary instances of lay person perception. However, examination of recent work in psychology reveals that there are good reasons to doubt that the effects observed in experimental settings, which ground the case for the FAE, pervade ordinary instances of person perception. Furthermore, it is possible to make sense of these experimental results without invoking the FAE. Harman's argument against lay character trait attribution is unsubstantiated.


Journal article


South African Journal of Philosophy

Publication Date





350 - 364