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The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 13, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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Reading [The Honor Code] is like attending a lecture by a lucid and ebullient professor who chuckles over his colorful anecdotes but is ultimately intent on making you think for yourself. Paul Berman --Slate
... presented in The Honor Code, Appiah's historical case studies, though moving at breakneck speed, are energized, informed, and highly readable. Ian Klaus --The Daily Beast
... monstrously interesting and the exact reverse of all the stereotypes of academic overspecialization and who-cares-ism. Matthew Yglesias --Thinkprogress.com
Appiah expertly limns the history of honor ... Michael Washburn --The Boston Globe
Appiah is one of the most relevant philosophers today.... His work reveals the heart and sensitivity of a novelist.. He helps us think holistically before turning analytic... Fascinating, erudite, and beautifully written. (The New York Times Book Review)
How stimulating it is to read the remarkable research of a brilliant mind into the concept of honor as the origin of morality as we know it, practiced or not!... This book is essential for us―inescapable in its urgent relevance to the embattled human morality we live within our codes of the present. (Nadine Gordimer, author of Telling Times)
Appiah lays out a concept that is not only compelling in its own right but also suggests a connection that may in time help to collate biological and cultural exploration of human morality. (Edward O. Wilson, author of Sociobiology)
A deeply insightful exposition of the dangers, the potential and the (perhaps) ineradicable role of the human sense of honor. (Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, McGill University)
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Top Customer Reviews
Appiah talks about what these modern revolutions might be in an excellent September 2010 article in the Washington Post. Just as we look back with horror at slavery and foot binding, people in the future may condemn one or more of our current practices. To determine what might cause our descendants to wonder "What were they thinking?!" Appiah provides three guidelines: first, arguments against the practice have long been in place, second, defenders of the practice cite tradition, human nature or necessity as reasons to continue (How could we grow cotton without slaves?), and third, supporters of the practice engage in strategic ignorance, for instance wearing slave-grown cotton without considering where it comes from. Appiah's contemporary candidates for moral revolutions include industrial meat production, the current prison system, the institutionalization and isolation of the elderly, and the devastation of the environment.
Appiah is a philosophy professor at Princeton and his writing is sometimes a little choppy in a logician's proof solving style, but the material is well thought out, timely and fascinating.
This book may also encourage us to shift our own codes of honor from ones that encourage our lunatic fringes to produce international frenzy in threatening to burn Korans in public to alternatives that recognize that we pray to the same God as Muslims and share interests of living good lives, experiencing the warmth of family and friends, and raising our children in a healthier, more peaceful world.
Appiah exposes the problem of harm done in the name of honor to a bright light. He may have earned himself a major peace prize in so doing. He may have earned for us all genuinely enhanced prospects for peace.
Dueling was mostly associated with a hereditary class of gentlemen, and feeling a responsibility to duel was a symbol of that status. When the nature of the upper class changed to include a much less well defined class that included successful businessmen, and society became more egalitarian, the distinction associated with demonstrating that one was a member of the hereditary elite lost enough value that the costs of dueling outweighed the prestige.
Slave-owners increasingly portrayed the labor that slaves preformed in a way that also implied the work of British manual laborers deserved low status, and rising resentment and political power of that labor class created a movement to abolish slavery.
The inability of Chinese elites to ignore the opinions of elites in other nations whose military and technological might made it hard for China to dismiss them as inferior altered the class of people whom the Chinese elites wanted respect from.
These are plausible stories, backed by a modest amount of evidence. I don't know of any strong explanations that compete with this. But I don't get the impression that the author tried as hard as I would like to find evidence for competing explanations. For instance, he presents some partial evidence to the effect that Britain abolished slavery at a time when slavery was increasingly profitable.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Erudite and engaging examination of the role of honor in making moral revolutions happen. Appiah argues, using several historical cases, that the way in which societies are able to... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Having done a fair amount of thinking about the idea and importance of honor codes I was disappointed in this book from an analytical point of view. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jim Namaste
Clear, accessible, and thought provoking. I would assign to a business class. He makes concepts seem simple.Published 15 months ago by Larry Miller
Thoughtful analysis, clearly expressed. I listened to the Audible book, narrated by the author. It was required reading for a class in Public Ethics, but I would gladly read this... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Justine
It was not as elegantly written or intellectual as I expected. It was okay, but spend your time reading Steiner or Sayers or Newman.Published 19 months ago by C. Gallagher
The subject of shame and honor are clearly deployed yet I would expect a more in-depth exploration of this captivating subject.Published on November 14, 2013 by Jaime Malamud
Brief Summary: Throughout history honor has remained a strong incentive for human action, yet it is rarely ever researched how this honor has affected change in history. Read morePublished on October 26, 2013 by Tsundoku Reviews