Courage and Self-Control

The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 1:59-64 (2007)
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Abstract

An important question about the nature of courage is whether it is a form of self-control. In this paper I argue that there are different kinds of courage and therefore the question whether courage is a form of self-control cannot be given a uniform answer. Courage exhibited in all cases may be classified as either spontaneous or deliberative courage. Spontaneous courage is not a form of self-control and usually is called for in emergency situations. It results from long-term moral cultivation, not a mindless impulse. Deliberative courage is usually shown in nonemergency situations. It may or may not involve self-control. In general, other things being equal, courage without exercising self-control is morally preferable. The absence of self-control is a necessary condition for ideal courage but ordinary courage is always accompanied by the exercise of will power.

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Xinyan Jiang
University of Redlands

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