Richard Reeves introduces this collection of short essays with a challenge: “I defy you to find a richer set of writings on the philosophical, empirical, and practical issues raised by a focus on character, and in particular its relationship to questions of opportunity.”
The evidence? The works of sixteen thoughtful skeptics of and enthusiasts for the public endeavor of character cultivation. The authors in this collection provide differing political perspectives to give at least equal weight to the moral dimensions of character as well as strong demands to honor individual free will and individual development.
This collection includes essays that draw attention to the gendered nature of character formation; stress the importance of culture, social norms; and explain the impact of chronic stress in the early years. Still others argue that the construction of a policy agenda for the cultivation of character poses a stark challenge to the partisan culture of contemporary politics, but may also alleviate it by reinvigorating community life.
As Reeves writes, don’t take his word for it. Read the essays and see for yourself.
Richard V. Reeves
Skills and Scaffolding
Character Is Experience
Free Will: The Missing Link between Character and Opportunity
Martin E. P. Seligman
Conscientiousness: A Primer
Chronic Adversity Shapes Character
Responsible Parenting: A Test of Character?
Women, Character and Competition
Cultures Build Character
Grit and Community
Schools of Character
Morality before Performance
Authority and Morality Build Character
Lawrence M. Mead
We Need Empathy, Too
Character Education: A Cautionary Note
The Thorny Politics of Mobility
Lanae Erickson Hatalsky