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Podcast #402: Why Honor Matters | The Art of Manliness

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In today‘s world, honor is typically thought of in terms of integrity — doing the right thing when no one is looking. But traditionally, honor meant having a reputation worthy of the respect of others. If people think about this type of honor at all these days, it’s usually in a negative way, associating it with pistol duels, honor killings, and toxic shame. But my guest today argues that for moral life to be robust and vital, a culture of honor is absolutely necessary. His name is Tamler Sommers. He’s a professor of philosophy at the University of Houston, co-host of the podcast Very Bad Wizzards, and the author of the new book Why Honor Matters. Today on the show, Tamler and I discuss honor— what it is, why it disappeared from our moral ethos and vocabulary, and why we should bring it back. Tamler makes the case that honor culture fosters community and encourages risk taking for the sake of excellence, while our modern dignity culture atomizes us and encourages us to play it small. He then makes a counterintuitive argument that the contained aggression and violence that honor promotes can have real benefits and shares one way honor is making a comeback in the form of the “restorative justice movement.” We end our conversation discussing why stories of honor are so appealing to humans and whether it’s really possible to revitalize honor in modern Western society.

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