My research area is moral psychology under the rubric of virtues and vices. I am interested in the moral psychology of victims and victimizers, particularly how people respond to violence. The nurture of virtues and the dismantling of vices are sustained in social practices, such as the practice of reconciliation. I aim to delineate those practices that enable recovery from violence rather that its perpetuation.
My recent book, Murdering Myths: The Story Behind the Death Penalty (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005) goes beyond the hype and statistics to examine American's deep-seated allegiance to a story that justifies violence as a means of justice. Drawing on interviews with both violence prisoners and families who have lost loved ones to murder, I show how this story harms perpetrators, victims, and society. I call for a new narrative that responds to the humanity in all of us.
My current book project, Blaming Vices: Responsibility for Our Character examines how vices are acquired, suggesting that we must be held accountable for our vices and misdeeds while not being blamed for possessing them.