A Philosophical Defense
Routledge – 2013 – 188 pages
This book examines the notion of honor with an eye to dissecting its intellectual demise and with the aim of making a case for honor’s rehabilitation. Western intellectuals acknowledge honor’s influence, but they lament its authority. For Western democratic societies to embrace honor, it must be compatible with social ideals like liberty, equality, and fraternity. Cunningham details a conception of honor that can do justice to these ideals. This vision revolves around three elements—character (being), relationships (relating), and activities and accomplishment (doing). Taken together, these elements articulate a shared aspiration for excellence. We can turn the tables on traditional ills of honor—serious problems of gender, race, and class—by forging a vision of honor that rejects lives predicated on power and oppression.
"In this thought-provoking, rewarding, and accessible volume, Anthony Cunningham boldly confronts the negative associations we might attach to the idea of honour and shows convincingly that none of these in any way damns the concept as such. In their place, Cunningham carefully builds up a defence of honour as a fundamental aspect of our nature as social beings and a notion that deserves to reclaim a central place in our thinking about the kind of people we want to be." --Douglas Cairns, author of Aidôs: The Psychology and Ethics of Honour and Shame in Ancient Greek Literature
"Bernard Williams brought our attention to the much neglected concept of shame in our ethical thinking. Now Anthony Cunningham does the same for an equally neglected concept, the concept of honor." --George W. Harris, author of Reason’s Grief: An Essay on Tragedy and Value
"Cunningham ably defends honor as a relevant social virtue in modern societies. The book is written in a lively and readable style. Summing Up: Highly recommended."--C.R. McCall, Elmira College, USA in Choice
Introduction 1. The Wrath of Achilles 2. Honor Stories 3. Honor's Demise 4. Is Honor Inevitably Flawed 5: Modern Honor: Character 6: Modern Honor: Relating and Doing 7. Shameless Morality 8. Whose Honor? 9. Final Thoughts
Anthony Cunningham is Professor of Philosophy at St. John's University, USA