The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age Without Good or Evil
James Davison Hunter
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character, it is fair to say that a person’s moral development does not occur in a cultural vacuum. Neither does moral instruction. Both occur in a powerfully influential normative context. Consider the matter this way. Humans are not born with a well-developed moral sensibility, much less “character.” Whatever predispositions we may have due to our genetic wiring, we are still mostly “unfinished” at birth.27 In contrast to other species that have a well-developed apparatus of instincts, we are
indicated some other living arrangement. Grade in school and income were both left as interval variables in their natural metrics, although the derivation of the income variable was not exactly straightforward. Since young people are not generally in a position to provide accurate family income information, the students in each school were Just assigned the median income for the primary zip code area served by the school (as identified by their principal). Place of residence (urban, suburban, or
with Caution.” Time, 16 July 1990. Gulick, Luther Halsey. “The Camp Fire Girls and the New Relation of Women to the World.” National Education Association, General Session, 1912. Haan, Norma. “Processes of Moral Development: Cognitive or Social Disequilibrium?” Developmental Psychology 21, no. 6 (1985). Haan, Norma, Eliane Aerts, and Bruce A. B. Cooper. On Moral Grounds. New York: New York University Press, 1985. Haan, Norma, Robert N. Bel la h, Paul Rabinow, and William M. Sullivan, eds.
popular psychology, not the other way around. The moral horizon Dobson conveys is not uncommon within Evangelicalism. The framework of popular psychology also organizes Kenneth Erickson’s Helping Your Children Feel Good About Themselves: A Guide to Building Self-Esteem in the Christian Family6 This is a sentimental book that expresses earnest concern for developing children. Here too, self-esteem is made the cornerstone of a healthy childhood and even a healthy society. Quoting Dobson, Erickson
schools and clubs, the effects, if they be effects, are not great enough to make members stand out as being consistently superior to non-members.13 As to a morality of self-control through acts of inhibition and persistence, the implications of our Studies in Deceit and our Studies in Service ... are borne out in this investigation of persistence and inhibition. There is little evidence that effectively organized moral education has been taking place.14 Overall, This does not imply that the