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    Moral heroes and moral saints

  • Moral heroes achieve their good and excellent goals only by making substantial sacrifices. The notion of self-sacrifice is the key distinguishing characteristic of this kind of exemplar.
  • What distinguishes moral saints from other kinds of moral exemplar is the criterion of moral faultlessness; these exemplars achieve their excellences by means of conduct that is free from any moral flaw.
  • Moral saints are often used to argue for the unity of virtues thesis, namely, that the virtues work together forming a system where each is necessary and mutually supports the others.
This table crosses over saints and heroes with idealists and responders.
Crossing over saints and heroes with idealists and responders
Moral Heroes (complete a good project at considerable risk to self) Moral Saints (meet a higher standard of moral purity)
Idealists (Act on the basis of moral principle--duty for duty's sake) Andre Trochme (acts stem from religious principles); Thomas More (according to Robert Bolt in Man for All Seasons); Martin Luther King (See Letters from Birmingham Jail) Thomas More (See Robert Bolt's characterization of More as a "saint of selfhood")
Responders (respond to need and moral salience present in current situation) Magda Trochme (Responded to needs of refugees); Oscar Schindler (responded to immanent threat of Nazi persecution of his Jewish employees); Mantel's portrayal of Cromwell (Cromwell because of his childhood difficulties took in young men and trained them in business and politics) Mother Teresa and Saint Francis

Exercise 1: choose a moral exemplar

  • Identify a moral exemplar and provide a narrative description of his or her life story.
  • To get this process started, look at the list of moral exemplars provided in this module. The links in the upper left hand corner of this module will help you to explore their accomplishments in detail. Feel free to choose your own exemplar. Make sure you identify someone in the occupational and professional areas such as business and engineering. These areas have more than their share of exemplars, but they tend to escape publicity because their actions avoid publicity generating disasters rather than bring them about.

Moral exemplars

  • 1. William LeMesseur. LeMesseur designed the Citicorp Building in New York. When a student identified a critical design flaw in the building during a routine class exercise, LeMesseur responded, not by shooting the messenger, but by developing an intricate and effective plan for correcting the problem before it issued in drastic real world consequences. Check out LeMesseur's profile at onlineethics and see how he turned a potential disaster into a good deed.
  • 2. Fred Cuny, starting in 1969 with Biafra, carried out a series of increasingly effective interventions in international disasters. He brought effective methods to disaster relief such as engineering know-how, political savvy, good business sense, and aggressive advocacy. His timely interventions saved thousands of Kurdish refugees in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. He also helped design and implement an innovative water filtration system in Sarajevo during the Bosnia-Serb conflict in 1993. For more details, consult the biographical sketch at onlineethics.
  • 3. Roger Boisjoly worked on a team responsible for developing o-ring seals for fuel tanks used in the Challenger Shuttle. When his team noticed evidence of gas leaks he made an emergency presentation before officials of Morton Thiokol and NASA recommending postponing the launch scheduled for the next day. When decision makers refused to change the launch date, Boisjoly watched in horror the next day as the Challenger exploded seconds into its flight. Find out about the courageous stand Boisjoly took in the aftermath of the Challenger explosion by reading the biographical sketch at onlineethics.
  • 4. Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2006. His effort in setting up "micro-businesses" funded through "micro-lending" has completely changed the paradigm on how to extend business practices to individuals at the bottom of the pyramid. Learn about his strategies for creating micro-businesses and how those strategies have been extended throughout the world, including Latin America, by listening to an interview with him broadcast by the Online News Hour. (See link included in this module.)
  • 5. Bill Gates has often been portrayed as a villain, especially during the anti-trust suit against Mircosoft in the mid 1990's. Certainly his aggressive and often ruthless business practices need to be evaluated openly and critically. But recently Gates stopped participating in the day-to-day management of his company, Microsoft, and has set up a charitable foundation to oversee international good works projects. Click on the link included in this module to listen to and read an interview recently conducted with him and his wife, Melinda, on their charitable efforts.
  • 6. Jeffrey Skilling, former CEO of Enron, can hardly be called a moral exemplar. Yet when Enron was at its peak, its CEO, Jeffrey Skilling, was considered among the most innovative, creative, and brilliant of contemporary corporate CEOs. View the documentary, The Smartest Guys in the Room, read the book of the same title, and learn about the configuration of character traits that led to Skilling's initial successes and ultimate failure. A link included in this module will lead you to an interview with Skilling conducted on March 28, 2001.
  • Inez Austin worked to prevent contamination from nuclear wastes produced by a plutonium production facility. Visit Online Ethics by clicking on the link above to find out more about her heroic stand.
  • Rachael Carson's book, The Silent Spring, was one of the key events inaugurating the environmental movement in the United States. For more on the content of her life and her own personal act of courage, visit the biographical profile at Online Ethics. You can click on the Supplimental Link provided above.

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, The environments of the organization. OpenStax CNX. Feb 22, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11447/1.9
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