Physical courage is courage in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss.
In the Western tradition, notable thoughts on courage have come from philosophers, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and Kierkegaard; in the Eastern tradition, some thoughts on courage were offered by the Tao Te Ching. More recently, courage has been explored by the discipline of psychology.
Courageousness does not imply fearlessness.
Several awards claim to recognize courageous actions, including:
- The Edelstam Prize awarded for outstanding contributions and exceptional courage in standing up for one’s beliefs in the defense of Human Rights.
- The Victoria Cross is the highest military award that may be received by members of the British Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of other Commonwealth countries for valour "in the face of the enemy." A total of 1,356 have been awarded to individuals, 13 since World War II. The civilian equivalent being the George Cross.
- The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed on members of the United States armed forces who distinguish themselves "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States".
- Distinguished Service Cross (United States) is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army, awarded for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force.
- The Carnegie Hero Fund – was established to recognize persons who perform extraordinary acts of heroism in civilian life in the United States and Canada, and to provide financial assistance for those disabled and the dependents of those killed saving or attempting to save others.
- The Profile in Courage Award is a private award given to recognize displays of courage similar to those John F. Kennedy described in his book Profiles in Courage. It is given to individuals (often elected officials) who, by acting in accord with their conscience, risked their careers or lives by pursuing a larger vision of the national, state or local interest in opposition to popular opinion or pressure from constituents or other local interests.
- The Civil Courage Prize is a human rights award which is awarded to "steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk — rather than military valor." It is awarded by the Trustees of The Train Foundation annually and may be awarded posthumously.
- Courage to Care Award is a plaque with miniature bas-reliefs depicting the backdrop for the rescuers' exceptional deeds during the Nazis' persecution, deportation and murder of millions of Jews.
- The Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage is a prize awarded by Georgia Institute of Technology to individuals who uphold the legacy of former Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr., whose actions in Atlanta, Georgia and testimony before congress in support of the 1963 Civil Rights Bill legislation set a standard for courage during the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960s.
- The Param Vir Chakra is the highest military award in India given to those who show the highest degree of valour or self-sacrifice in the presence of the enemy. It can be, and often has been, awarded posthumously.
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