Legal and religious systems provide rules for living, telling us – often in very concrete terms – what we are and are not permitted to do. Break the rules and you go to jail, get fined, face censure, either on Earth or in the afterlife. By contrast, honour codes inform human action by trafficking in that intangible – but essential – currency: respect.
In The Honor Code, the British-born Ghanaian philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah outlines a plan for social change that targets the concept of honour. Looking back at historical traditions such as foot-binding in China and duelling in Europe, both of which have run their course, Appiah considers practices such as honour killings that still persist, and suggests that a change in the very definition of honour might be the key to enacting peaceful social change.
- Running time: 4 mins