Policy Memos

Why the Study of Virtues Tells Us More About Russia Than the Study of Values

Policy Memo:


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Why do so many studies of political culture in Russia tend to produce boring, familiar accounts that describe the essential ambiguity of Russia's progress toward democracy and the market economy? The everyday moral intuitions shared by the majority of Russians are rooted in the ethics of virtue, rather than the ethics of principle. Hence a search for values, which allegedly underlie actions that conform to these principles, misses the point. Perhaps, one should study virtues instead.

This memo will first outline the character of Soviet practical morals largely inherited by contemporary Russia. Next, it will contrast research approaches based on searches for values and searches for virtues. Finally, it will consider some implications for contemporary Russian politics and society. [...]

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