The Two Faces of Courage

Philosophy 61 (236):151 - 171 (1986)
Courage is dangerous. If it is defined in traditional ways, as a set of dispositions to overcome fear, to oppose obstacles, to perform difficult or dangerous actions, its claim to be a virtue is questionable. Unlike the virtue of justice, or a sense of proportion, traditional courage does not itself determine what is to be done, let alone assure that it is worth doing. If we retain the traditional conception of courage and its military connotations–overcoming and combat–we should be suspicious of it. Instead of automatically classifying it as a virtue, attempting to develop and exercise it, we should become alert to its dangers. And yet and yet. There is an aspect of traditional courage that serves us: we require the capacities and traits that enable us to persist in acting well under stress, to endure hardships when following our judgments about what is best is difficult or dangerous. If courage is checked, redefined as the virtue that enables virtue–the various sets of dispositions, whatever they may be, that make us resolute in worthy, difficult action–then we need not fear the dangers of courage. We need rather to reform it by diversifying it, as a heterogeneous variety of traits that enable us to act well under stress, against the natural movements of self-protection.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2307/3750473
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,831
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
John Corlett (1996). Virtue Lost: Courage in Sport. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 23 (1):45-57.
Andrew Payne (2005). A New Account of Thick Concepts. Journal of Value Inquiry 39 (1):89-103.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

36 ( #89,739 of 1,724,865 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #268,597 of 1,724,865 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.