New York: State University of New York Press (2015)
In this history of the development of ideas of honor in Western philosophy, Peter Olsthoorn examines what honor is, how its meaning has changed, and whether it can still be of use. Political and moral philosophers from Cicero to John Stuart Mill thought that a sense of honor and concern for our reputation could help us to determine the proper thing to do, and just as important, provide us with the much-needed motive to do it. Today, outside of the military and some other pockets of resistance, the notion of honor has become seriously out of date, while the term itself has almost disappeared from our moral language. Most of us think that people ought to do what is right based on a love for justice rather than from a concern with how we are perceived by others. Wide-ranging and accessible, the book explores the role of honor in not only philosophy but also literature and war to make the case that honor can still play an important role in contemporary life.