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101. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 4
Vida Yao Boredom and the Divided Mind
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On one predominant conception of virtue, the virtuous agent is, among other things, wholehearted in doing what she believes best. I challenge this condition by exploring the connections between the emotion of boredom and the states of continence and incontinence. An easily bored person is susceptible to these forms of inner disharmony because of two familiar characteristics of boredom: that we are often bored by what it is that we know would be best to do, and that occurrent states of boredom tend to give rise to positive interest in performing actions that we know would be bad to do. Moreover, while a susceptibility to boredom can indicate a lack of attentiveness, or be evidence of a vice such as ingratitude, it is in others inseparable from a number of positive qualities of character, such as perspicacity, liveliness, and certain forms of intelligence. Given this, we should reject wholeheartedness as a condition on the virtues, and recognize those possessed by more divided minds as well.
102. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 4
Lauren Ware Erotic Virtue
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This paper defends an account of how erotic love works to develop virtue. It is argued that love drives moral development by holding the creation of virtue in the individual as the emotion’s intentional object. After analyzing the distinction between passive and active accounts of the object of love, this paper demonstrates that a Platonic virtue-ethical understanding of erotic love—far from being consumed with ascetic contemplation—offers a positive treatment of emotion’s role in the attainment and social practice of virtue.
103. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 4
W. Scott Cleveland The Emotions of Courageous Activity
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An apparent paradox concerning courageous activity is that it seems to require both fear and fearlessness—on the one hand, mastering one’s fear, and, on the other, eliminating fear. I resolve the paradox by isolating three phases of courageous activity: the initial response to the situation, the choice of courageous action, and the execution of courageous action. I argue that there is an emotion that is proper to each of these phases and that each emotion positively contributes to the performance of courageous activity in each of its phases. More specifically, I argue that fear, hope, and daring are necessary for complete courageous activity. My model of courageous activity explains why courage is a virtue that requires excellent emotion dispositions and resolves the paradox concerning the apparent need for both fear and fearlessness. Fear is required in the first phase and fearless daring in the third phase of courageous activity.
104. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 4
Kevin Patrick Tobia Wonder and Value
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Wonder’s significance is a recurrent theme in the history of philosophy. In the Theaetetus, Plato’s Socrates claims that philosophy begins in wonder (thaumazein).Aristotle echoes these sentiments in his Metaphysics; it is wonder and astonishment that first led us to philosophize. Philosophers from the Ancients through Wittgenstein discuss wonder, yet scant recent attention has been given to developing a general systematic account of emotional wonder. I develop an account of emotional wonder and defend its connection with apparent or seeming value. Recently, several philosophers invoke wonder to back non-eudaimonistic value judgments. I introduce methods to incorporate these judgments into a eudaimonistic moral framework. On the analysis presented, wonder requires its object to seem valuable, but whether the object is in fact valuable remains an open question. Wonder enraptures us with objects that might be of true or merely illusory value, grounded either in our own well-being or in non-eudaimonistic value.
105. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 4
Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung The Roots of Despair
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This paper is an exploration of the Thomistic vice of despair, one of two vices opposed to the theological virtue of hope. Aquinas’s conception of despair as a vice, and a theological vice in particular, distances him from contemporary use of the term “despair” to describe an emotional state. His account nonetheless yields a compelling psychological portrait of moral degeneration, which I explain via despair’s link to its “root,” the capital vice of sloth. Cases in which sloth and its offspring vices progress into full-fledged despair raise interesting issues about whether and how despair might be remediable. I conclude by considering puzzles regarding despair’s disordered effects on the intellect and will and weighing three possible means of remedying it.
106. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 4
Michael Slote The Emotional Justification of Democracy
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Most political philosophers see rationally recognized human rights as justifying universal suffrage. But sentimentalism can develop its own justification for democracy. It is uncaring for rulers to deny people the vote out of a desire to retain power and privilege; and when rulers in Asia argue that Asian societies don’t need democracy because of the “natural deference” of Asian people, their argument is no more persuasive than patriarchal arguments for the natural deference of women. But a positive argument for democracy emerges from Abraham Maslow’s idea that all humans have a deep desire for the esteem of others. Denying people the right to vote expresses a low opinion of them, and this goes deeply against our desire for esteem. Even though democratic societies may lose out on various economic opportunities because of the electorate’s unwillingness to make certain sacrifices, they provide a form of esteem that is for emotional reasons much more important to us humans.
107. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 4
James Sias Being Good and Feeling Well
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This paper attempts to clarify the relation between moral virtue and the emotions, but with an ulterior motive: I want an account of this relation that is not only plausible on its own, but also, one that helps to explain when, and how, our emotions might contribute to the justification of moral beliefs formed on their basis.
108. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 4
Adam C. Pelser Respect for Human Dignity as an Emotion and Virtue
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Although it does not appear on many traditional lists of the virtues, respect for human dignity is an important virtue in its own right that is characterized as much by emotions as by other mental states and actions. The virtue of respect for human dignity essentially involves the dispositions to feel the emotion of respect for the dignity of others and an emotional sense of one’s own dignity. As exemplified by Nelson Mandela, this virtue also involves a keen perceptual sensitivity to humiliating and degrading treatment, along with dispositions to protest, correct, and prevent such treatment. The person with the virtue of respect for human dignity also will be disposed to feel indignation toward willful violations of human dignity, compassion for those whose dignity is violated, and various positive emotions in response to victories for human dignity. Although this virtue closely resembles other, more widely recognized, virtues, such as justice and love, it nevertheless is appropriate to treat respect for human dignity as a distinct virtue, as well as an emotion.
109. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 4
Susan Stark Ordinary Virtue
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A body of psychological data casts doubt on the idea of character traits. As a result, some conclude that situations determine action. This view, situationism, undercuts our conception of the individual as responsible for actions. Moreover, the situationist argues that virtue theories, because they emphasize character, are most vulnerable to this attack. At its extreme, situationists hold that there are no character traits of the sort virtue theory requires. I argue, however, that the virtue theorist can answer this critique. Their response elucidates the ordinary process of moral development and reveals that the human good is partly constituted by social context. The situationist, mistaken about the virtues, makes an important point: situations have a substantial bearing on our abilities to be morally good and to flourish. But accepting this need not undermine the virtue theorist’s view because human beings can learn to be sensitive to morally salient aspects of situations.
110. Res Philosophica: Volume > 93 > Issue: 1
Andrew M. Bailey You Are an Animal
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According to the doctrine of animalism, we are animals in the primary and non-derivative sense. In this article, I introduce and defend a novel argument for the view.
111. Res Philosophica: Volume > 93 > Issue: 1
Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin Deep Reflection: In Defense of Korsgaard's Orthodox Kantianism
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This article defends the Kantian moral theory developed by Christine Korsgaard against the charge that it does not establish that immorality is always irrational because moral obligations are inescapable and overriding. My aim is to show that two versions of a well-known criticism of the view fail for the same reason. They do not recognize the role of inadequate reflection in accounting for immoral actions and, consequently, they do not fully appreciate the commitments that come with accepting the supposed structure of human psychology that is bedrock to the view. I argue, first, that G. A. Cohen makes too much of the difference between Korsgaard and Kant on the source of moral norms and that we can appeal to what she says about practical reason in an early paper of hers in order to handle his Mafioso case. Next, I take up J. David Velleman’s more recent treatment of Korsgaard’s view in response to Cohen’s Mafioso case. I show that Velleman’s argument that her view is concessive conflates his own view of human agency with Korsgaard’s practical identity theory. My hope is that this discussion shows how Korsgaard’s view can be made to work as an orthodox Kantianism.
112. Res Philosophica: Volume > 93 > Issue: 1
T. Ryan Byerly, Meghan Byerly The Special Value of Others-Centeredness
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Suppose you confront a situation in which you can either promote a good for yourself or a good for someone else, but not both. The present paper argues that it is valuable for your conduct in such circumstances to be regulated by a character trait the possession of which constitutes one way of having one’s life be centered upon others as opposed to centered upon oneself. The trait in question, which we shall call “others-centeredness,” is a disposition to promote goods of others rather than one’s own goods when the values of these goods are equal or incommensurable. We argue that possessing this trait makes one more likely to maximize total value, because in addition to promoting the goods of the other, this trait also promotes goods of interpersonal union. We explain why this conclusion is significant, and we defend our argument for it against several objections.
113. Res Philosophica: Volume > 93 > Issue: 1
Linda Radzik Gossip and Social Punishment
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Is gossip ever appropriate as a response to other people’s misdeeds or character flaws? Gossip is arguably the most common means through which communities hold people responsible for their vices and transgressions. Yet, gossiping itself is traditionally considered wrong. This essay develops an account of social punishment in order to ask whether gossip can serve as a legitimate means of enforcing moral norms. In the end, however, I argue that gossip is most likely to be permissible where it resembles punishment as little as possible.
114. Res Philosophica: Volume > 93 > Issue: 1
Leigh C. Vicens Objective Probabilities of Free Choice
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Many proponents of libertarian freedom assume that the free choices we might make have particular objective probabilities of occurring. In this paper, I examine two common motivations for positing such probabilities: first, to account for the phenomenal character of decision-making, in which our reasons seem to have particular strengths to incline us to act, and second, to naturalize the role of reasons in influencing our decisions, such that they have a place in the causal order as we know it. I argue, however, that neither introspective reflection nor the metaphysics of causation gives us reason for thinking there are such particular objective probabilities of our free choices.
115. Res Philosophica: Volume > 93 > Issue: 1
Joseph Stenberg "Considerandum Est Quid Sit Beatitudo": Aquinas on What Happiness Really Is
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Aquinas may seem profligate in defining ‘happiness’ (beatitudo). He says, “by the name ‘happiness’ is understood the ultimate perfection of a rational or of an intellectual nature” (ST Ia q.62 a.1 co.). He also says, “‘happiness’ names the attainment of the ultimate end” (ST IaIIae q.2 pro.). He further says the following “definition of happiness” is “good and adequate”: “Happy is the one who has all that he desires” (ST IaIIae q.5 a.8 ad 3). So which expresses what happiness really is? Which gives us the quid est of happiness? In this essay, I argue that his quid est definition of happiness is put in terms of “the attainment of the ultimate end.” I further argue that, once that definition is properly understood, it becomes clear that Aquinas thinks happiness just is intimately knowing and enjoying God. I close by focusing on one downstream interpretive effect that this interpretation could plausibly have; it may influence our understanding of the relationship between virtue and happiness in Aquinas.
116. Res Philosophica: Volume > 93 > Issue: 1
Saja Parvizian Generosity, the Cogito, and the Fourth Meditation
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The standard interpretation of Descartes’s ethics maintains that virtue presupposes knowledge of metaphysics and the sciences. Lisa Shapiro, however, has argued that the meditator acquires the virtue of generosity in the Fourth Meditation, and that generosity contributes to her metaphysical achievements. Descartes’s ethics and metaphysics, then, must be intertwined. This view has been gaining traction in the recent literature. Omri Boehm, for example, has argued that generosity is foundational to the cogito. In this paper, I offer a close reading of Cartesian generosity, arguing that the meditator cannot acquire generosity in the Second or Fourth Meditation.
117. Res Philosophica: Volume > 93 > Issue: 1
Travis Dumsday Lowe's Unorthodox Dispositionalism
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The deep differences between E. J. Lowe’s ontology of dispositions and that maintained by other prominent dispositionalists have received relatively little attention in the existing literature on his work. Here I lay out some of these differences, along the way attempting to clarify whether Lowe’s ontology can properly be termed ‘dispositionalist.’ I then argue that the unique features of his ontology allow it to avoid some well-known worries facing standard dispositionalism, while at the same time opening his view to novel objections. My overall aim here is neither to defend nor attack Lowe’s theory, but rather to assess some of its pros and cons and to consider its sometimes surprising implications (implications not always drawn out explicitly by Lowe).
118. Res Philosophica: Volume > 93 > Issue: 1
David Sanson Worlds Enough for Junk
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A cap is something that is not a proper part. A junky thing is something that is not part of any cap. Can there be junky things? The view that possible worlds are concrete cosmoi suggests not: every possibility involves the existence of a cosmos, and that cosmos is a cap. But this can be overcome by allowing that some parts of a cosmos may collectively represent a complete possibility. The resulting view helps cast light on some important features of the Modal Realist’s attitude toward modality.
119. Res Philosophica: Volume > 93 > Issue: 1
Thomas M. Ward John Buridan and Thomas Aquinas on Hylomorphism and the Beginning of Life
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This paper examines some of the metaphysical assumptions behind Aquinas’s denials that a human rational soul unites with matter at conception and that a human rational soul is capable of developing and arranging the organic parts of an embryo. The paper argues that Buridan does not share these assumptions and holds that a soul is capable of developing and arranging organic parts. It argues that, given hylomorphism about the nature of organisms, including human beings, Buridan’s view is philosophically superior to Aquinas’s in several respects. Finally, the paper poses an apparent inconsistency between several of Buridan’s texts on this topic and attempts to show that the inconsistency is merely apparent.
120. Res Philosophica: Volume > 93 > Issue: 1
Timothy Pawl, Mark K. Spencer Christologically Inspired, Empirically Motivated Hylomorphism
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In this paper we present the standard Thomistic view concerning substances and their parts. We then note some objections to that view. Afterwards, we present Aquinas’s Christology, then draw an analogy between the relation that holds between the Second Person and the assumed human nature, on the one hand, and the relation that holds between a substance whole and its substance parts, on the other. We then show how the analogy, which St. Thomas himself drew at points, is useful for providing a theory that answers the objections that the standard Thomistic view faces. Finally we answer objections to our approach. We conclude that there is a hylomorphic theory, founded on an analogy from Aquinas’s Christology, that fits well with the empirical data concerning substance parts, on which some complete created material substances have other complete created material substances as parts.