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Personality and Virtue: new book explores social and moral importance of human motivation

24 February 2016

Book cover
Personality and Virtue: Essays on the Philosophy of Character

A new book co-edited by a Cardiff University philosopher analyses the nature and development of individual character traits, drawing ethical and political lessons for society today.

Reader in Philosophy Dr Jonathan Webber co-edited From Personality to Virtue: Essays on the Philosophy of Character with Dr Alberto Masala of Paris-Sorbonne University.

The book integrates ethical thought about good character with the psychology of human motivation. Through ten essays it sheds light on what character traits are, how they influence people's behaviour, how they are related to social expectations of behaviour, and how these ideas should influence both education and penal policy.

President of the British Society for Ethical Theory, Dr Webber said: "These essays demonstrate the value of integrating areas of social psychology that have developed separately from one another. By this conceptual work, the book contributes to our empirical knowledge of human motivation and draws out moral and political implications of that knowledge”.

The book explores how character shapes the expectations that ground our plans, our moral responses to the behaviour of others and to our own opportunities, and how character should inform political decisions concerning formal education, criminal punishment, and other aspects of social organisation.

The essays highlight the inherently dynamic nature of character, challenging the tendency to focus on static snapshots of traits, and emphasise the close integration of character with the individual's social context.

From Personality to Virtue: Essays on the Philosophy of Character has been published by Oxford University Press.

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