Two of a Kind: Are Norms of Honour a Species of Morality?

25 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2017 Last revised: 15 Jul 2018

Date Written: June 23, 2018


Should the norms of honour cultures be classified as a variety of morality? In this paper, we address this question by considering various empirical bases on which norms can be taxonomically organised. This question is of interest both as an exercise in philosophy of social science, and for its potential implications in meta-ethical debates. Using recent data from anthropology and evolutionary game theory, we argue that the most productive classification emphasizes the strategic role that moral norms play in generating assurance and stabilizing cooperation. This account entails that honour norms are indeed a variety of moral norm, but also has the resources to explain why they typically occur in a relatively unified, phenotypically distinctive cluster.

Keywords: honor, morality, cooperation, moral disagreement, social kinds, moral foundations theory

Suggested Citation

Handfield, Toby and Thrasher, John, Two of a Kind: Are Norms of Honour a Species of Morality? (June 23, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Toby Handfield (Contact Author)

Monash University ( email )



John Thrasher

Chapman University ( email )

Orange, CA 92866
United States
7146287343 (Phone)

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