About The Protector Ethic

The Protector Ethic: Morality, Virtue, and Ethics in the Martial Way explores the principles and values that must anchor a modern warrior.

Midday on a train, a robbery turns vicious beating. Passengers refuse to intervene or even shield the victim. They become witnesses to murder.

Author James V. Morganelli sees this as a symptom to a wider disease: a breakdown in moral ethics. The fear of conflict is causing people to recoil when they are needed most. Worse, it is fueling doubt towards universal moral values intrinsic to humanity.

As a martial artist and ethicist, Morganelli says we should prioritize these values, like the “protector ethic,” to safeguard self and others, who cannot protect themselves. The martial way offers a “moral-physical philosophy” to understand basic human respect, demonstrate the true meaning of virtues, like justice, and guide us physically when making difficult tactical decisions.

The Protector Ethic details a unique East meets West ethical theory that examines the ancient cardinal virtues through the lens of Eastern martial tradition. Readers will:

• Discover the martial way of valuing, reasoning, judging, and acting.
• Consider natural law, protective instinct, and self-risk.
• Examine how ideas of moral subjectivity do not increase human equality and can actually dehumanize.

Author James V. Morganelli is a student and teacher of martial arts going on forty years, holds a master’s degree in ethics from Loyola University Chicago, and is a master instructor of an ancient Japanese martial tradition. It is his contention that personal ethics are more strongly rooted and thereby actionable when they are habituated through the physicality of martial training. This is perennially important because the fear of human conflict can lead to ethical nihilism.

People will tolerate dehumanizing cruelty and as a general rule will give in and give up rather than defend themselves or others from attack, because the fear of conflict is a phobia. Human nature will often contort itself just to avoid contact with its darker half— even ignore suffering and then lie about it afterward. This reality leads to ethical befuddlement as the seductive forces of moral relativism and ambivalence toward time-honored cultural values transforms that fear into phony virtues, like political correctness and voluntary victimhood.

But this kind of confused self-importance can cause us to shrink from the malevolence of this world, and in doing so we actually appease evil by no longer prioritizing and protecting our universal values. Instead, we become willing to demean them through ignorance and dishonesty, which only coaches us toward the nihilistic ideals to hold contempt for the good and distrust for truth itself.

To combat this, Morganelli submits we must unlock the universal moral values intrinsic to our humanity, like the “protector ethic,” to stand up and defend ourselves and others who might not or cannot defend themselves. It is developed by intuiting the principles of martial endeavor: honor, integrity, vigilance, and rectitude—nothing less than the immutable cardinal virtues backstopped by physical skills. Understanding the reciprocity of natural justice, temperance in our reasoning, and prudence in our judgment, provides, above all, the courage to act.