Preview Response

Virtues / Law

Karen Man Yee Lee

Senior Lecturer, La Trobe Law School, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia


Courage and justice, two of the cardinal virtues that Prof Herdt identified, can be used to describe those ordinary citizens and community leaders who risked their individual liberty in defending political liberalism in many authoritarian or transitional societies. These two virtues are perhaps mutually reinforcing: a sense of justice gives one courage to persist amid a climate of fear, while courage can be born of one’s strong sense of justice. From the opposition leaders in Russia, to women rights activists in Afghanistan, and political activists in Hong Kong, for example, courage and justice symbolize the universal demands of human dignity and  fundamental freedoms, though they are not devoid of enormous human suffering.