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When Conscience Calls

Moral Courage in Times of Confusion and Despair


What is moral courage? Why is it important and what drives it? An argument for why we should care about moral courage and how it shapes the world around us.

War, totalitarianism, pandemics, and political repression are among the many challenges and crises that force us to consider what humane people can do when the world falls apart. When tolerance disappears, truth becomes rare, and civilized discourse is a distant ideal, why do certain individuals find the courage to speak out when most do not?

When Conscience Calls offers powerful portraits of ordinary people performing extraordinary acts—be it confronting presidents and racist mobs or simply caring for and protecting the vulnerable. Uniting these portraits is the idea that moral courage stems not from choice but from one’s identity. Ultimately, Kristen Renwick Monroe argues bravery derives from who we are, our core values, and our capacity to believe we must change the world. When Conscience Calls is a rich examination of why some citizens embrace anger, bitterness, and fearmongering while others seek common ground, fight against dogma, and stand up to hate.

256 pages | 6 x 9

Philosophy: Ethics

Table of Contents

Preface: One Very Small Candle
Introduction: What Is Moral Courage?

Part I Moral Courage as a Concept
1 Moral Courage: What We Know and What We Need to Know
2 Stories of Moral Courage: Data and Research Methodology

Part II Understanding Moral Courage
3 “We’re Going to Do What’s Right. We May Pay a Price for It, but That’s Fine”: Steve Zimmer on Protecting Undocumented Students
4 “No One, Not Even the President, Is Above the Law”: Erwin Chemerinsky on Suing President Trump
5 “If We Organize, We Can Change the World”: Heather Booth on Social Activism
6. “I Am Going to Do This. I Am Going to Do This to the End”: Kay Monroe on Caring for the Elderly
7 “The Courage You Have . . . It’s Not Something You Consciously Think About”: Amal on Anti-Muslim Bullying
8 “It Would Be a Violation of the Public Trust to Not Do All I Could to Stop the Wrongdoing”: Loretta Lynch on Speaking Truth to Power during the Enron Crisis
9 “Nothing Else . . . Would Enable Me to Look in the Mirror the Next Day”: Vikram Tej on Fighting Caste in India

Part III A Richly Faceted Moral Courage
10 When Nobody’s Watching
Conclusion: Learning from the Lives of Others

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