Routledge – 2009 – 184 pages
Series: Thinking in Action
What is courage and why is it one of the oldest and most universally admired virtues? How is it relevant in the world today, and what contemporary forms does it take?
In this insightful and crisply written book, Geoffrey Scarre examines these questions and many more. He begins by defining courage, asking how it differs from fearlessness, recklessness and fortitude, and why people are often more willing to ascribe it to others than to avow it for themselves. He also asks whether courage can serve bad ends as well as good, and whether it can sometimes promote confrontation over compromise and dialogue.
On Courage explores the ideas of Aristotle, Aquinas and many later philosophers who have written about courage, as well as drawing on classic and recent examples of courage in politics and fiction, including the German anti-Nazi "White Rose Movement", the modern phenomenon of "whistle-blowing", and Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage.
'…a wonderful little book about one of the most well known yet least understood virtues. Scarre has a simple, straightforward writing style that is informative but easy to follow. …For anyone interested in courage, whether for research or just out of curiosity, this is the book to start with. Highly recommended.' - CHOICE
'Courage is a cardinal virtue and at the core of our everyday, lived morality. It raises some fascinating questions – can a criminal be courageous? is the courageous person not afraid? – and yet contemporary philosophers have said surprisingly little about it. So this insightful, open-minded and accessible study will be especially valuable to anyone interested in the morality of the virtues.' - Roger Crisp, St. Anne's College, Oxford, UK
1. Locating Courage 2. The Reality of Courage 3. Cardinal Virtue or Macho Vice? 4. Fortitude 5. Courage and Goodness 6. Courage: An Outdated Virtue? Notes Bibliography Index