The Cowardice of My Convictions

Questioning Anti-Human Values


  • Joseph J. Locascio Harvard Medical School



humanism, metaphysics, ontology, morality


This essay makes the argument that contrary to long-standing, unquestioned, popular belief, human courage is not a virtue – not if courage is defined broadly as risking one’s personal well-being for a higher goal and virtue is defined as a quality conducive to the long-term betterment of oneself and/or humankind. I contend that courage in general is best viewed as a morally neutral, innate or learned, behavior or attitude which can be used for great evil, i.e., unnecessary harm, as well as for good. In the latter case, I would use the qualified expression “moral courage.” Continuing to indiscriminantly promulgate within human culture, the belief that courage is an aspirant virtue is I believe a mistake humankind can no longer afford to make with the advent of technological weaponry that threatens its survival.

Author Biography

Joseph J. Locascio, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Locascio works in the Neurology Department at Massachusetts General Hospital, and he also teaches at Harvard Medical School.






How to Cite

Locascio, J. (2013). The Cowardice of My Convictions: Questioning Anti-Human Values. Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, 20(2), 115–127.



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