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21. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Valerie Tiberius Why Be Moral? Can the Psychological Literature on Well-Being Shed any Light?
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In Plato’s dialogue the Republic, Glaucon challenges Socrates to prove that the just (or moral) life is better or more advantageous than the unjust one. Socrates’s answer to the challenge is notoriously unsatisfying. Could new research on well-being in philosophy and psychology allow us to do better? After distinguishing two different approaches to the question “why be moral?” I argue that while new research on well-being does not provide an answer that would satisfy Glaucon, it does shed light on the topic. Empirical research has different implications for our prudential reasons to be moral depending on which philosophical theory of well-being is accepted. Some well-being theories sustain stronger links to morality than others, but any theory of well-being can make use of empirical research to narrow the gap between prudence and morality to some extent.
22. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Daniel M. Haybron The Proper Pursuit of Happiness
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What are the norms governing the pursuit of happiness? Presumably not just anything goes. But are the rules any more interesting than platitudes like “do whatworks, as long as you don’t hurt anyone”? Such questions have become especially salient in light of the development of positive psychology. Yet so far these matters have received relatively little attention, most of it from skeptics who doubt that the pursuit of happiness is an important, or even legitimate, enterprise. This paper examines the normative issues in this realm, arguing that the pursuit of happiness is indeed a legitimate and important endeavor, contra recent criticisms by Aristotelian and other skeptics. Yet it is also subject to strong, nonobvious normative constraints that extend well beyond those typically posited by commonsense and consequentialist thought.
23. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Richard Kraut Human Diversity and the Nature of Well-Being: Reflections on Sumner’s Methodology
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In Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics, L. W. Sumner argues that theories of well-being must not pick out some kinds of human lives as richer in prudential valuethan others. I argue that we should reject this methodological stricture, but should embrace his insight that many kinds of lives are good for people to live. I also reject his claim that a theory of well-being would fail if it took the form of a list of things that are good for us. Nonetheless, I argue, if we construct such a list in a way that caters to the diversity of good human lives, we will be led to the conclusion that they are united by their relationship to the flourishing of our natural capacities. I distinguish between bottom-up and top-down strategies for defending this Aristotelian conception of well-being, and argue in favor of a bottom-up approach.
24. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Erik Angner Is Empirical Research Relevant to Philosophical Conclusions?
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Much recent philosophical literature on happiness and satisfaction is based on the belief that empirical research is relevant to philosophical conclusions. In his2010 book What is This Thing Called Happiness? Fred Feldman begs to differ. He suggests (a) that there is no evidence that empirical research is relevant to long-standing philosophical questions; consequently, (b) that philosophers have little reason to pay attention to the work of psychologists or economists; and (c) that philosophers need not fear embarrassing themselves by being ignorant of important scientific findings that bear directly on their work. Relying on an example invoked by Feldman himself, this paper makes the case that all three theses are false. The argument suggests a picture according to which science and philosophy stand in a symbiotic relationship, with scientists and philosophers engaging in a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas for the advancement of thegeneral knowledge.
25. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Tobias Hoffmann The Pleasure of Life and the Desire for Non-Existence: Some Medieval Theories
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Are there subjective or objective conditions under which human life is not worth living? Or does human life itself contain the conditions that make it worth living?To find answers to these questions, this paper explores Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Richard of Mediavilla, and John Duns Scotus, who discuss whether the damned in hell can, should, and do prefer non-existence over their existence in pain and moral evil. In light of Aristotle’s teaching that there is a certain pleasure inherent to life itself, I shall argue that even a life that is in important respects painful and unpleasant is still worth living.
26. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Jason Kido Lopez Kierkegaard's View of Despair: Paradoxical Psychology and Spiritual Therapy
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Though many hold Søren Kierkegaard’s The Sickness unto Death contains psychological descriptions of those who suffer from despair, I will argue that this is not so. Kierkegaard makes three claims—the conjunction of which I call ‘the triple reduction’—that take contradictory stances on whether people in despair are aware of their despair and whether they want to be their true self. Indeed, if the triple reduction were true, people in despair would be both aware and unaware of their despair, and would both want and not want to be their true self. Unless we want to attribute to Kierkegaard this paradoxical psychological view of the despairer, then we must, I will argue, read Sickness not as a work that answers the question of what is happening in the mind of someone in despair. Instead, it is a therapeutic work meant to help its readers out of despair.
27. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Robert Wyllie Kierkegaard's Eyes of Faith: The Paradoxical Voluntarism of Climacus's "Philosophical Fragments"
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Scholarly debate about Kierkegaard’s fideism focuses upon whether his voluntarism—the doctrine that religious faith can be simply willed—is practicable or credible. This paper proposes that a close reading of Philosophical Fragments and The Concept of Anxiety (1844) reveals that there is a role for both the will and the intellect in Kierkegaard’s concept of faith. Kierkegaard arrives at a compatibilism that emphasizes the roles of both the intellect and the will. The intellect perceives a “moment” that paradoxically intersects time and eternity and assents to a skeptical argument that one cannot understand how things and events come into existence. And beyond simply recognizing that belief is not unreasonable, the intellect perceives an internal logic to faith in a theological aesthetic—Johannes Climacus’s “poem” in Philosophical Fragments. Against the standard view of Kierkegaard’s voluntarism, this argument for compatibilism shows how the intellect combined with the will forms the “eyes of faith.”
28. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Walter Wietzke Practical Reason and the Imagination
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I argue that Kierkegaard’s work is relevant to an issue currently being debated within Anglo-American ethical theory. Kierkegaard’s account of the transition between existence spheres maps onto discussions in the contemporary field that concern how an agent can acquire motivations for new normative obligations. Following Kierkegaard’s work, a deeper understanding of the conditions behind a transition between existence spheres suggests that an individual’s set of motivations can be revised to direct the individual towards new and different ends. From the contemporary perspective, this helps explain how agents can be led to appreciate different normative obligations (i.e., existence spheres) based on the self-conscious understanding they have of their own interests. To guide this analysis I discuss Jamie Ferreira’s work on the imagination and explain how it can illuminate Kierkegaard’s contribution to current debates in ethical theory.
29. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
David Diener Kierkegaard on Authority, Obedience, and the Modern Approach to Religion
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Throughout his works Kierkegaard repeatedly claims that the modern age has subverted authentic Christianity. While interpretations of Kierkegaard’s critique of the modern approach to religion abound, they generally agree that the critique is based on various conceptual distinctions regarding the limits of human reason, the epistemological differences between subjective and objective truth, or the (irrational?) nature of religious faith. Very little attention, however, has been paid to the prominent role authority plays in the critique or to the fact that according to Kierkegaard it is disobedience to authority, and not any conceptual confusion, that is the primary fault of the flawed modern approach. This paper argues that Kierkegaard’s most fundamental indictment of the modern approach to religion is its disobedience to the authority of the Christian command. Given this, the paper then examines what, for Kierkegaard, is the basis on which a person should choose to submit to an alleged religious authority.
30. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen Schelling and Kierkegaard in Perspective: Integrating Existence into Idealism
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Søren Kierkegaard is often considered to be one of the most vocal critics of German idealism. The present paper analyzes the philosophical similarity between Friedrich Schelling’s early idealistic work and Kierkegaard’s existential writings, endeavoring to display Schelling’s epic 1809 publication Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom as a possible forerunner to Kierkegaard. This juxtaposition reveals concrete similarity that supports the thesis that Schelling’s work could have been of great inspirational value for Kierkegaard, especially Kierkegaard’s core concepts such as freedom, morality and God. However, Schelling’s early work is primarily appreciated as a philosophy of nature (metaphysics), and therefore fundamentally different from Kierkegaard’s theistic-psychological writings. The present paper tentatively opposes this distinction, concluding that if Schelling really is a forerunner to Kierkegaard, then we ought to appreciate Kierkegaard’s writings as conveying more than a theological message. The conclusion suggests that Kierkegaard’s writings should be interpreted in a broader philosophical context, closer to the metaphysical idealism he is often assumed to resist.