From Publishers Weekly
Rooting his analysis firmly in historical manifestations of honor, Appiah (Cosmopolitanism), a professor of philosophy at Princeton, offers four case studies in what he calls moral revolutions, attesting to how altering notions of honor can provoke positive changes in social behavior. Codes of honor surrounding dueling, Chinese foot binding, the Atlantic slave trade, and the ongoing practice of honor killing in contemporary Pakistan are all examined to reveal the various dimensions of honor as it relates to notions of respect, shame, and dignity. Appiah argues for a distinction between honor and morality that underpins how and why abhorrent practices so often continue despite their criminalization. While the author devotes too much space to basic historical narrative and not nearly enough to the complex issues of how honor relates to morality and how it can be distinguished from the constellation of notions like respect that he draws on, it is nonetheless a compelling read and represents a refreshingly concrete solution to the question of how to alter deeply objectionable, deeply intractable human practices.
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... the author ... often achieves a Malcolm Gladwell-like balance between argument and storytelling. He stirs in spoonfuls of narrative honey to help his medicinal tea go down. Dwight Garner
--The New York TimesReading [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.comAppiah 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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“What causes moral progress? In this brilliant book, Appiah casts light on the role played by honor. Even though it's sometimes distorted, as with honor killings in Pakistan, this classical concept can be a lode star in guiding us to a better future. It's an amazing and fascinating insight. This is an indispensable book for both moral philosophers and honorable citizens.” (Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe)