Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Term Paper


School of Unrestricted Education

Primary Advisor

Dr. Grace Veach


Honor is a concept familiar to many, yet it can be difficult to articulate. In this thesis, the topic of honor is first explored as a philosophical and social structure. Then, using this structure, an ideal conception of honor is argued. For the formation and support of a functional honor theory, major components of honor are defined by examining and integrating the opinions of philosophers past and present. Terms defined include Individual and Group, as well as Internal behavior and External behavior. These establish honor as a mechanism for social motivation, because moral values that are idealized in a code of honor incentivize certain types of behavior. Next, the arguments for two ideal values for a culture to honor are discussed, followed by a response to potential objections. These two moral values are Personal Responsibility and Humility, which are both parsed by Aristotle’s system of lack, mean, and excess. The discussions of these two values overlap to some degree. Principally, however, Personal Responsibility is debated from the perspective of justice theory (such as the one proposed by Tamler Sommers in Why Honor Matters), whereas Humility is chiefly discussed within the context of religion (primarily that of Islam). A recurring theme throughout is the ability of these two moral values to compensate for the other’s weaknesses. All arguments in support of the thesis that Personal Responsibility and Humility are the ideal values for a culture to honor are measured by a rubric that assesses the practical success of these values. This criterion is the values’ capability to avoid honor violence.