"A central assumption of economics is that "tastes" (which include
what non-economists would call values and beliefs, as well as inter-
ests) can be taken as given and are not problematic. All that is inter-
esting in human behavior is how it changes in response to changes in
the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action. "
He did not believe that virtue was inculcated by prayer in schools.
It was habituated by practicing good manners, by being dependable, punctual and responsible day by day.
“Order exists because a system of beliefs and sentiments held by members of a society sets limits to what those members can do.”
In “The Moral Sense,” he brilliantly investigated the virtuous sentiments we are born with and how they are cultivated by habit. Wilson’s broken windows theory was promoted in an essay with George Kelling called “Character and Community.” Wilson and Kelling didn’t think of crime primarily as an individual choice. They saw it as something that emerged from the social psychology of a community. When neighborhoods feel disorganized and scary, crime increases.
Wilson was not a philosopher. He was a social scientist. He just understood that people are moral judgers and moral actors, and he reintegrated the vocabulary of character into discussions of everyday life.