In the back-up feature to last week's Detective Comics #8, written by Tony S. Daniel and illsutrated by Szymon Kudranski, Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face, appropriately adopts both sides of the recent philosophical and psychological debate over character traits.
First, Harvey shows us the situationist position:
Situationists such as John M. Doris, author of Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior, argue that people do not have general character traits like honesty and courage, but rather that their moral behavior depends very strongly on the circumstances of any particular situaiton. This work is based on psychological research showing that, for instance, people are much more likely to help a stranger after finding a coin in a phone booth (or other seemingly irrelevant and trivial cues).
This is widely seen as a criticism of virtue ethics, which claims that people do have robust character traits or dispositions that correspond to the virtues. Luckily for us, Two-Face also represents this position:
Virtue ethicists respond to the situationist critique in a number of ways. For instance, they argue that they never claimed that character traits and action were correlated precisely, so there is no problem with observing some situational variation in behavior. Also, they argue that the experiments don't show that circumstances change any particular person's behavior; they simply separate those with robust character traits from those without. (Showing his own professional virtue, Doris lists much of his critics' work here; Gopal Sreenivasan's "Errors about Errors: Virtue Theory and Trait Attribution" is particularly good.)