Concerning Honor

I am posting some writing I have made in an online course on Moral Psychology.

The choice of Mattie in True Grit as an example of honor seems wrong.  She was a likable character and her motives were reasonable. Ned Pepper’s killing of her father caused her to want revenge. Revenge can arise from other causes than honorable. Revenge may be caused by hate, rage, grief, a sense of loss and not from an insult to honor at all. Legal compensation for harm to oneself or one’s properties is an ancient practice- even Tacitus wrote about Germanic legal values.

In some primitive societies where the economy and its tools are basic and common, honor may be in not being possessive about property. If someone admires your knife that is easily made from stone, you might give it to him. In an advanced society private property is required to allow private and differentiated personal interests to occur without disruptive interference. While Professor Bloom seemed to indicate that for some Yale or Connecticut people there might not be much moral reproof for intercourse with a cow, autonomy valuation does not determine by itself if Connecticuters allow such behavior, so do additional laws, customs and values. There is a practical and reasonable side to Kant’s categorical imperative. H.I.V was distributed largely by leftists or those without a sense of spirit in preference for materialism.

Good character matters. It is regarded as honorable. Honor is not something found simply with duelists or southern Americans and viewed with disdain by Professor Bloom. It is inherent in not lying, cheating, stealing, corrupting and such does exist) wheresoever one might think a profit can be taken. Social failure to develop good character among citizens- the lack of civic virtue and honor, disrespect for intelligence, patience, long-suffering, sobriety and so forth; even disrespect for the work of the Lord Jesus Christ engenders social breakdown at a time in history when intelligent leaders of good character; honorable people, are requisite to lead society from mass destruction.

Nothing was said so far about an honor system, meaning in this case, honesty policed or enforced by each individual. That is an important value to have. A society without thievery is honorable when it is caused not through fear, but from pervasively good character.

Aretaic ethics are so basic to a good society that an omission of it from discussion of honor is rather laughable. Such a criterion is consistent with a selection of a tavern and hard alcohol users as a context where honor can be said to occur. Fundamentally, being mildly temporarily impaired with alcohol isn’t honorable, especially amidst strangers.