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On the fittingness of agential evaluations

ContributorsKeller, Robertoorcid
Published inPhilosophical explorations, vol. 25, no. 2, p. 251-268
Publication date2021-12-17
First online date2021-12-17
Abstract

According to a leading view, emotions such as admiration, contempt, pride, and shame are important vehicles of agential development. Through admiration and contempt, we establish models and countermodels against which to shape our character; through pride and shame, we get a sense of how we measure up to them. Critics of this view object that these emotions always deliver uncompromising evaluations: admiration casts people in a completely positive light, while contempt casts aspersion on them. Therefore, insofar as they lack the capacity for nuance, these emotions are systematically unfitting and misleading. This paper discusses this objection as originally formulated by John Doris as well as Macalester Bell’s response. Drawing from research on emotional intentionality, it will be argued that Doris’ and Bell’s accounts are respectively misguided criticisms and inadequate defences of these emotions. Their mistake lies in an invalid transition from the claim that these emotions are intentionally directed towards persons to the claim that they deliver global evaluations of those towards whom they are directed. By rejecting this inference, it will be shown that these emotions can deliver nuanced and fitting evaluations in a way Doris’ objection overlooks and Bell’s response precludes us from articulating.

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KELLER, Roberto. On the fittingness of agential evaluations. In: Philosophical explorations, 2021, vol. 25, n° 2, p. 251–268. doi: 10.1080/13869795.2021.2009547
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ISSN of the journal1386-9795
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