The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choice

Hardcover | April 15, 2015

byWilliam Damon, Anne Colby

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Cynicism 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 andincrease, 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 thehuman 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 makechoices 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 ofus--with ordinary lives--can exercise control over important life decisions and pursue ideals that we believe in.

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Cynicism 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 andincrease, unabated by even the grandest of charita...

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 Glob...

other books by William Damon

Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet
Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet

Paperback|Aug 22 2002

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:April 15, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199357749

ISBN - 13:9780199357741

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsIntroduction1. Wrong Turns in the New Science of Morality2. The Active, Ideal-Seeking, Motivated Moral Self3. Towards A Moral Psychology in Full4. Truthfulness5. Humility6. Faith7. The Universal Search for Moral Truth