On behalf of honorethics.org, I’m pleased to announce that Sharon Krause has graciously accepted our invitation to join us as a contributor.
Sharon is a Professor of Political Science at Brown University. Her first book, Liberalism With Honor, was a major contribution to the field of honor research. In it, she argues that a strong sense of honor, although long reviled as anti-democratic and illiberal, actually serves an important role in liberation movements. Drawing on Montesquieu’s thesis that an honor-minded aristocracy provides a socially beneficial check on the autocratic ambitions of monarchs, she argues that honor “combines self-concern with principled higher purposes and so challenges the disabling dichotomy between self-interest and self-sacrifice that currently pervades both political theory and American public life.” For her, honor-mindedness nurtures a high self-regard, which disposes people to take risks on behalf of their liberation that cannot be explained in terms of an egoistic gamble for benefits or a liberal commitment to cooperate. Thus, although the democratic and other-oriented liberal mindset is in tension with the aristocratic and self-directed honor mindset, oppressed peoples often cannot gain their freedom without at least some honor-minded “champions” willing to stand firm and suffer the consequences of protesting their rights.
Sharon’s more recent book, on political psychology, Civil Passions, won the 2010 Spitz Prize from the Conference for the Study of Political Thought for best book in liberal or democratic theory and the 2009 Alexander George Book Award from the International Society of Political Psychology for best book in political psychology. She is currently working a book on freedom: Freedom Beyond Sovereignty.