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Moral Courage Paperback – March 14, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Defining moral courage as "the quality of mind and spirit that enables one to face up to ethical challenges firmly and confidently," Kidder, president of the Institute for Global Ethics, offers a treatise on the "courage to be moral" replete with examples and analysis. He offers a step-by-step guide, including checklists, on how to apply moral values to difficult situations, understand risks (more often career troubles and social ostracism than physical harm) and endure hardships brought on by moral courage itself. He explores how and why people can fail to be morally courageous, and ways that they can learn to behave better, offering anecdotes that range from an investment firm employee choosing to confess a potentially costly mistake to a married couple refusing to let unmarried guests sleep together, despite prevailing cultural norms. The book is weaker on the philosophical side. An extended distinction drawn between physical and moral courage ends up muddy and sometimes patronizing toward those whose courage entails only physical risk; it appears almost as if moral courage were a white-collar courage and physical courage a less exalted blue-collar sort. The analysis of how moral action and values interlock is never thoroughly convincing, since the former seems to cover almost anyone who claims to stand on principle (such as the boss who cut his workers' wages by $3 an hour), but there is enough thoughtfulness here for a substantive introduction to a worthwhile subject.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Former Christian Science Monitor editor and author of Good People Make Tough Choices (1994), Kidder makes an eloquent, impassioned plea to instill and cultivate moral courage throughout all of our work and personal lives. Far from giving only empty words and far from offering a series of platitudes, the author promotes public and private examples of moral courage--the courage to be moral--to underscore its importance and relevance today, from the lessons of Mahatma Gandhi to the issues faced by Enron executives and whistle-blowers. His book is also far from simply a cheerleading exercise; included are clear definitions, checklists, and a prescription for teaching the principles at all ages. Finally, it is a primer for decision making; anecdotes and outlines of clear choices, for instance, between truth and loyalty, will help mindful readers determine the right actions to follow in every aspect of their lives. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060591560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060591564
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Prior to founding the Institute for Global Ethics in Camden, Maine, and London, England, Rushworth M. Kidder, Ph.D., was a senior columnist for the Christian Science Monitor. For the past fifteen years he has worked to refine the guidelines for ethical decision making through the institute's mission of research, public discourse, and practical action. Kidder leads seminars, gives keynote speeches, and conducts interviews with global leaders. He is an award-winning author of eight books on subjects ranging from twentieth-century poetry to the global ethical future and is a trustee of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. He serves on the advisory board of the Kenan Ethics Center at Duke University, the advisory council of the Character Education Partnership, and the advisory board of Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on public television. In addition to his weekly columns for the institute's Ethics Newsline, Kidder's op-ed pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe. He lives with his family in Lincolnville, Maine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Arthur E. Gans on March 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Rush Kidder's new book, "Moral Courage" examines both the structure of a value system and the essential idea of morage courage which enables any value system to work. Kidder, the founder of the Institute for Global Ethics, and an important commentator on practical ethics is well suited to look at what makes ethics work in the workday world.

There are nine chapters in the book which neatly fit into three sections. The first section which I would call "Basics" includes Standing Up for Principle; Courage: Moral and Physical; and The Courage to be Moral. The second section which I would call "Elements of Moral Courage" includes The First Circle: Enduring the Hardship; The Second Circle: Recognizing the Risks; and The Third Circle: Enduring the Hardship. The final section which I would call "Practical Applications" includes Fakes, Frauds and Foibles : What Moral Courage Isn't; Learning Moral Courage, and finally, Practising Moral Courage in the Public Square.

The book uses many personal stories to demonstrate by example, just what is meant. It has a solid theoretical structure but the clear illustrations of real people applying the theory in their own lives makes it both very readable and useful as a text in courses on practical ethics.

I believe this is a book that should be in the library of any person who has a sincere interest in practical or applied ethics. Its analysis of moral courage will, I believe, become a classic. I think it will give ethicists as well as others a common language as well as a common way to examine ethical situations. Since the illustrations come from a very broad spectrum of human experience and differing societies, the book should be a useful tool no matter what area of ethics an individual is involved in. It is very clear and does not resort to jargon. It will, without doubt, be an important tool for practical ethics for many years to come.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By D. W. Jacobs on January 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Our pop culture-saturated society has seen its definition of heroism narrowed to the actions of "superheroes", or at the very least to borderline impossible acts of physical courage. What this exceptional book suggests is that we can all be heroes through acts of moral courage. The book features a number of fascinating examples of everyday people who saw that a situation in their lives was wrong, weighed the risks of taking and not taking action, and overcame both the fear of and actual hardships to do the right thing.

My favorite stories in the book are of those people who suffered negative consequences for taking a stand against something wrong but have experienced no regrets for acting as they did (for example, the high school student in Massachusetts who blew the whistle on some friends who she knew were plotting a Columbine-style attack but was held responsible for not acting sooner). The dilemmas in these stories are the stuff of great fiction; the fact that so many people chose to act heroically despite the consequences that they faced before and after the fact makes for very compelling reading.

Some might fault the book for being a bit dry in spots, and it might sell more copies if it had the relentlessly upbeat tone of many self-help books. But the writer's journalistic training serves him well here; this is a book about idealistic action firmly grounded in the details of everyday life. It is a tremendously inspiring, truly thought-provoking book that one would love to see as required reading in classrooms and employee training sessions everywhere.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tognetti TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Take a look at your hometown newspaper on any given day. You might read about a deadly fire that could have been prevented had a city or town inspector been doing his or her job honestly and diligently. Or there just might be a story about a high ranking elected official who is abusing the public trust they have been sworn to uphold. Or maybe a group of high school students have been caught plagiarizing their term papers. How do you react when you read these kinds of stories? Are you outraged or do you merely shrug your shoulders and yearn for the "good old days" when people were more responsible and more accountable for their actions.

As we enter the increasingly complex world of the 21st century, it has become quite apparent that there is a need for more and more of us to display "Moral Courage". Much to my amazement, author Rushworth Kidder reveals in the opening pages of his book that a search on the internet revealed that no one has ever written a book on this specific subject. To Kidder there are three elements to "Moral Courage"--an individual must have principles, there has to be an element of danger or risk involved and one must show a willingness to endure. As a means of illustration, the author cites numerous real-life examples of individuals who found themselves facing very real ethical dilemmas. Some of his subjects would fail the test miserably while others would respond in a heroic way. Kidder goes on to explain that the most difficult moral dilemmas are not those situations where the choices are clearly "right against wrong" but rather the situation that commonly occurs where one must struggle with "right vs. right" choices.

I cannot think of anyone who would not benefit from reading "Moral Courage".
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