Recently Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah, spoke of his book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen 1. Dr. Appiah is a professor at Princeton. In this book he discusses both the power of the concept of honor, and its strength in controlling behavior, as well as its mutability. It is, he proposes, this mutability that can be harnessed to produce reforms that can benefit humanity. 2. Specifially, Dr. Appiah outlines dueling in England, and a specific duel that took place in 1839, between the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Winchilsea. The argument began over the issue of whether the Catholics in Ireland should have the vote, supported by the Duke, who was the Prime Minister, and opposed by the Earl. The Earl then broadened the issue by stating that the Duke only supported the founding of an Anglican University, Kings College, to hide his papist sympathies. The letter, in part: carry on his insidious designs for the infringement of our liberties, and the introduction of popery into every department of the state." 3. Wellington demanded an apology, Winchilsea declined. A duel was demanded by the Duke, accepted by the Earl. a. The Duke, firing first as the insulted, missed. The Earl then fired into the air. Upon this completion of the duel, the Earl promptly apologized! b. Why? Based on honor, the Duke demanded the duel. Based on his honor, the Earl could not apologize and be seen to be afraid to duel. He had to be shot at in order to apologize! 4. Dueling was actually illegal from the time of Queen Elizabeth I, the middle of the 16th century, considered to be against the common law of England. Blackstone wrote that killing someone in a duel is to be considered ordinary murder, and as such, a capital crime. 5. Moreover, dueling is, and was, unchristian and unjewish, as well. It was condemned by the Christian Church in the 9th century, and repeated at the 16th century Council of Trent, and viewed as such by the Protestant Churches when they came into existence. a. The Christian argument against dueling was that, in order for it to make sense, there had to be some connection between who was right, and who wins. But the only one who can validate such a connection is God! So, a duel is a way to force God to make the decision! b. Christ was told to throw himself from the temple, so that angels will lift you up. Luke 4: 12- And Jesus answered and said to him, It is said, YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST. 6. Dueling is considered to be immoral. As one may demand a duel having been falsely accused of lying, morality does not find slander as a capital offense. 7. And, of course, since one can find no connection between who wins and who is right, it is, therefore, illogical .one might say, crazy. 8. Yet, for 300 years, any gentleman who was challenged in England would say Yes, for I must defend my honor! Honor, therefore, can make could make one behave in an illegal, unchristian, immoral, illogical, crazy manner! So, how did this change? 9. In the late 18th century, England underwent a change in morality, a new evangelical Christian movement, seen in the conversion of men such as William Wilberforce, In 1785, he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, resulting in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform .convinced of the importance of religion, morality, and education. William Wilberforce - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia a. This movement, with a concomitant democratization, resulted in dueling becoming a laughing rather than affair of honor. Dueling was an aristocratic practice, and could only sustain honor if only aristocrats could do it. Once anyone could so engage, it no longer distinguished aristocracy. b. Francis Bacon had, in fact predicted, that behavior of the gentry would change once barbers and butchers and other rude mechanicals could do the same things. 10. By the mid-1800s the new definition of a gentleman could be seen in Cardinal Newmans quote It is almost the definition of a gentleman to say that he is one who never inflicts pain. 11. Using this illustration of the alteration of honor, from an idea of murder being due to honor, to a very different concept, Appiah goes on to discuss the 5000 or so honor killings in the world. a. He states that the practice is not based on the Koran, and, in fact can be found in Hindu and Sikh societies, as well. b. Honor killings in Pakistan have already been reduced by a decline in the acceptability of that practice. c. He foresees an end to the practice in a much shorter time than it took to end dueling in England. The Islamic Reformation is underway. Too optimistic...or simply the march of civilization?