Synopses & Reviews
Character and Culture presents an integrated account of the nature of character and a discussion of the various ways in which it is influenced, for better and worse, by social and political institutions. Through a careful analysis of virtue and vice, Hunt argues that character traits consist, in part but very crucially, of certain ideas on which the individual acts. Institutions such as commerce and private gift exchange, says Hunt, can encourage people to possess positive character traits--not by offering bribes or threats, but by shaping our vision of the importance of the goods that are pursued by human action and of the limits of right conduct. He is less optimistic about the effects of democracy on character, suggesting that they depend on whether or not the power of the voters to control one another is constrained by institutions that protect individual rights.