The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choice
William Damon (Author) Anne Colby (Author)
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DescriptionCynicism often seems a smarter choice than idealism. There are reasons for this. Politicians have disappointed us time and again; trusted institutions have proven to be self-serving and corrupt; hopes for lasting world peace repeatedly have been dashed; and social inequities persist and increase, unabated by even the grandest of charitable efforts. It is now considered foolish to think that people can be counted on to rise above their narrow self-interests to serve the broader good, or to tell the truth if it does not reflect well on the self. Supporting this bleak view of the human condition is a moral psychology that has taken increasingly cynical turns in recent years. Famous studies have shown that we have an almost unlimited potential for cruelty when placed in the wrong situations. The Power of Ideals presents a different vision, supported by a different kind of evidence. It examines the lives and work of six 20th century moral leaders who pursued moral causes ranging from world peace to social justice and human rights. Using these six cases to illustrate how people can make choices guided by their moral convictions, rather than by base emotion or social pressures, authors William Damon and Anne Colby explore the workings of three virtues: inner truthfulness, humility, and faith. Through their portrayal of the noble lives of moral leaders, the authors argue that all of us--with ordinary lives--can exercise control over important life decisions and pursue ideals that we believe in.
Oxford University Press, USA
May 01, 2015
6.1 X 9.1 X 0.7 inches | 0.7 pounds
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About the Author
William Damon is Professor of Education at Stanford University and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace. He is an author of eighteen books, including Greater Expectations, which won the Parents' Choice Book Award. Damon's research has been covered in many national
publications, including the Boston Globe, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. His national talk show appearances include The Diane Rehm Show, Oprah!, The O'Reilly Factor, and Talk of the Nation. Anne Colby is Consulting Professor at Stanford University. Previously, she was Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and director of the Murray Research Center at Harvard University. Colby received the Kuhmerker Award from the Association of Moral Education for
lifetime achievement in the field of moral development. She is an author of nine books, including Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education, which won the Frederick Ness award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Colby's research has been covered in national publications
such as the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
"As only Damon and Colby can do, the authors provide an expert, candid, and refreshing discussion of the complexities of the moral life. Looking for no easy answers, they raise concerns regarding popular trends in deterministic approaches and embrace the messiness of moral psychology-providing a vision for the roles of biology, culture, reason, emotions, imagination, behaviors, and virtue. Daring to explore issues of faith, unlike most social scientists, the authors offer a novel and important portrayal of the resources and demands of secular and religious faith in the quest to live a moral life. Readers beware-their unique approach of delving into the lives of actual historic, moral heroes does not just inform, but threatens to transform. The Power of Ideals offers a road map and gives hope that social change through moral excellence is accessible to the all of us." --Pamela Ebstyne King, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Fuller Theological Semiary
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