Digest of terms

character

now most commonly referring to person in a book or film in the sense of participant, but the more substantial sense, with moral connotations, persists in: 'a person of real character' or requests for 'a character reference'. The notion that each individual has a distinctive character, which should be nurtured and developed, is taken for granted by some and challenged by others. Certainly, there is research evidence, which demonstrates that actual behaviour does not always conform to how people appear and present themselves, or to what people say they do. Nevertheless, the combination of habitual inclinations and consistent intentions does convey something of a person's identity, including both inherited genetic propensities and socially reinforced or induced ones. Conceptions of character, and the importance of its development, are central to virtue ethics. The word 'ethics' itself comes from the Greek word meaning 'character'.

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