"A moral victory is neither moral nor a victory. Discuss."

Well, let's see. A moral victory is when you lose something practical - say, a promotion, a game, or a significant other - but you hold the moral high ground at the end of the day. If someone beats you by cheating, you could say you have a moral victory.

Many times a moral victory doesn't require an opponent being "immoral" per se. If your team is a 28 point underdog, and you only lose by a last-second field goal, that could be a moral victory of sorts. Or if, like Henry Thoreau, you are arrested for civil disobedience, this might be a moral victory - you still have to pay your fines, but you can feel like you've made your point. Moral victories have a lot to do with making points.

A lot of people have the penchant for using this term incorrectly, describing a victory about morality as a "moral victory." Looking through the papers, I see people claiming that legislation preventing partial-birth abortions is a moral victory. William Safire would have a fit.

In short, a moral victory implies defeat. Moral victories are for sissies. Then again, sometimes they are the only victories you've got.

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