Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Dale E. Miller

Committee Member

Lawrence J. Hatab

Committee Member

Frederick A. Lubich


Heroism allows us to explore morality on a much deeper level, supplying us with people, events, actions, and circumstances that make our beliefs more complex, more meaningful, and more practical. My research evaluates heroism as an instructional tool and subject for the use in moral education and personal development. In this thesis, I argue that heroes are and should be used in moral education to stimulate the retention or reevaluation of cultural values and moral conventions. My objective will be to explain how heroes are currently used to support and guide moral development, while raising important questions regarding the benefits and disadvantages of utilizing heroes in particular ways. In other words, I want to demonstrate how heroes influence our moral understanding. My thesis starts by establishing a new definition and set of necessary criteria for heroism. Using this new definition, I then discuss the advantages and limitations of using heroes to communicate, reinforce, or reevaluate moral values. Heroes have always been pedagogically significant, but have received little academic attention as instructional figures. I blend philosophy with sociological and psychological research in order to explore the educational possibilities of heroic phenomena. I support my position by examining cultural and historical icons, fictional heroes, and heroic archetypes.


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