The first look at the philosophy behind the Captain America comics and movies, publishing in advance of the movie release of Captain America: The Winter Solider in April 2014. In The Virtues of Captain America, philosopher and long-time comics fan Mark D. White argues that the core principles, compassion, and judgment exhibited by the 1940 s comic book character Captain America remain relevant to the modern world. Simply put, "Cap" embodies many of the classical virtues that have been important to us since the days of the ancient Greeks: honesty, courage, loyalty, perseverance, and, perhaps most importantly, honor. Full of entertaining examples from more than 50 years of comic books, White offers some serious philosophical discussions of everyone s favorite patriot in a light-hearted and accessible way.
* Presents serious arguments on the virtues of Captain America while being written in a light-hearted and often humorous tone * Introduces basic concepts in moral and political philosophy to the general reader * Utilizes examples from 50 years of comics featuring Captain America, the Avengers, and other Marvel superheroes * Affirms the value of "old-fashioned" virtues for the modern world without indulging in nostalgia for times long passed * Reveals the importance of the sound principles that America was founded upon * Publishing in advance of Captain America: The Winter Soldier out in April 2014.
Mark D. White is Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the College of Staten Island/CUNY and co-editor of Batman and Philosophy.
Introduction vii Acknowledgments xiii Notes on Source Material xiv About the Author xvi 1 Superhuman Ethics Class 1 Utilitarianism 2 Deontology 6 A Civil War of Ethics! 10 Virtue Ethics 13 Virtuous Deontology No, Deontological Virtue Maybe Deontovirtue ? 18 2 Captain America as a Moral Exemplar 25 Can a Fictional Character Be a Moral Exemplar? 26 Aren t Fictional Characters Liable to Be Perfect? 29 Fifty Years, Dozens of Writers One Captain America? 34 3 Five Basic Virtues 45 Courage 46 Humility 50 Righteous Indignation 54 Sacrifice and Responsibility 58 Perseverance 63 4 Honor and Integrity 76 The Honor of Captain America 76 External Honor as Respect 78 Internal Honor as Integrity 85 Principle and Compromise 88 Duty and Sacrifice (Again) 96 5 Judgment 109 Making the Hard Decisions 110 Whose Right Answer? 115 Tragic Dilemmas and How to Avoid Them 118 Black-and-White or Red, White, and Blue? When Judgment Evolves 122 Hitting the Threshold 131 6 Principle and Politics 143 Patriotism: The Captain and America 143 Cosmopolitanism 146 The American Dream Versus the American Reality 150 I m a Hero, Not a Politician! 153 Principle over Politics 156 Captain America in (Principled) Action 161 Secret Empire/Nomad 161 The Captain 163 Civil War 166 7 Can Captain America Help Us Achieve Greater Unity and Civility? 178 The Divided States of America, Then and Now 178 The Three Core American Ideals 181 Justice 182 Equality 184 Liberty 186 Debating What We Disagree On While Recognizing What We Share 188 Now It s Our Turn 193 Appendix: Why Are There Seven Volumes of Captain America and Five Volumes of Avengers? 198 References 202 Index 221