A virtue is concerned with moral excellence, uprightness and goodness (Oxford English Dictionary). You might have heard people say ‘Patience is a virtue’. A moral virtue motivates people to do what is right and moreover to want to do what is right. For Aristotle, courage concerns the ability to respond appropriately to fear, and to face fear with confidence. Thus, in exercising courage, individuals should ‘refrain both from cowardice and foolhardiness and instead should act in accordance with practical wisdom’ (Lindh et al, 2010, p559). In this respect, cowardice and foolhardiness can be viewed as being located at opposite ends of a continuum – the courageous person will find a balance somewhere between these two extremes and exercise courage wisely.
Lindh, I., Barbosa da Silva, A., Berg, A. and Severinsson, E. (2010) Courage and nursing practice: A theoretical analysis. Nursing Ethics, 17(5): 551-565