The Character Gap

ISBN : 9780197503805

Christian Miller
296 Pages
128 x 179 mm
Pub date
Mar 2020
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We like to think of ourselves, our friends, and our families as decent people. We may not be saints, but we are still honest, relatively kind, and mostly trustworthy. Miller argues here that we are badly mistaken in thinking this. Hundreds of recent studies in psychology tell a different story: that we all have serious character flaws that prevent us from being as good as we think we are - and that we do not even recognize that these flaws exist. But neither are most of us cruel or dishonest. Instead, Miller argues, we are a mixed bag. On the one hand, most of us in a group of bystanders will do nothing as someone cries out for help in an emergency. Yet it is also true that there will be many times when we will selflessly come to the aid of a complete stranger - and resist the urge to lie, cheat, or steal even if we could get away with it. Much depends on cues in our social environment. Miller uses this recent psychological literature to explain what the notion of "character" really means today, and how we can use this new understanding to develop a character better in sync with the kind of people we want to be.


Part One: What is Character and Why is it Important?
Chapter One: What Are We Talking About?
Chapter Two: Why Should We Bother Developing a Good Character?
Part Two: What Does Our Character Actually Look Like Today??
Chapter Three: Helping
Chapter Four: Harming
Chapter Five: Lying
Chapter Six: Cheating
Chapter Seven: Putting the Pieces about Character Together
Part Three: What Can We Do to Improve Our Characters?
Chapter Eight: Some Initial and Less Promising Strategies
Chapter Nine: Some Strategies with More Promise for Improving Our Characters
Chapter Ten: Improving Our Characters with Divine Assistance
Works Cited

About the author: 

Christian B. Miller is A.C. Reid Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University and Director of the Character Project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation and Templeton World Charity Foundation. He is the author of over 75 papers as well as two books with Oxford University Press, Moral Character: An Empirical Theory (2013) and Character and Moral Psychology (2014). He is also the editor or co-editor of Essays in the Philosophy of Religion (Oxford University Press), Character: New Directions from Philosophy, Psychology, and Theology (Oxford University Press), and several other volumes.

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