Moral frailty and failings have fascinated thinkers ever since the first records of drama, philosophy, and religion. How can we explain deliberate unethical acts and persistent urges to do evil? How can we account for wrongdoing in the face of intentions to do good? Strident examples of the flawed hero and the divided self raise problems for the psychological understanding of character and virtue. Neither normative principles nor simple accounts of immaturity, errors, and sin are enough to explain them. The difficulty of inculcating character and virtue makes us ask furthermore whether families, communities, and even republics can become havens for civic, moral, and religious growth.
Throughout the millennia 'virtue' and 'character' have not only referred to what is best in human beings, but have been misrepresented in ideological propaganda or misconstrued as static habits or compulsive behavior. In the psychosocial and moral domains, these terms indicate not only the stability but also the creative nature of traits that tend toward moral and prosocial action and toward psychological and moral growth, a forward-leaning and interconnecting movement of excellence.
The Psychology of Character and Virtue contributes to the renewal of character and virtue theory. As experts in philosophy, ethics, psychology, political theory, and religion, the contributors enact a critical dialogue on the nature, function, and development of the human person, while paying particular attention to the possibility of instilling stable dispositions of moral character. In various ways they all seek to correct partial and excessively negative views on the nature of the human person. They employ Greco-Roman, medieval, modern and contemporary philosophy, Shakespearean drama, the American Founders, and Christian thought in order to make the case that the crux of moral development and education is the integrity of character and the connection of the virtues.
The contributors are Robert Audi, Fred Miller, John Rist, Daniel Robinson, Richard Swinburne, and Charles Taliaferro.
Craig Steven Titus is research professor at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, as well as lecturer and researcher at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He is coeditor of The Pinckaers Reader and author of Resilience and the Virtue of Fortitude, both published by CUA Press. He is also editor of the first three volumes in the John Henry Cardinal Newman Lecture Series, titled The Person and the Polis, On Wings of Faith and Reason, and Christianity and the West.