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61. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
Rachael Briggs Transformative Experience and Interpersonal Utility Comparisons
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I consider an old problem for preference satisfaction theories of wellbeing: that they have trouble answering questions about interpersonal comparisons, such as whether I am better off than you are, or whether a particular policy benefits me more than it benefits you. I argue that a similar problem arises for intrapersonal comparisons in cases of transformative experience. I survey possible solutions to the problem, and point out some subtle disanalogies between the problem involving interpersonal comparisons and the problem involving transformative experience.
62. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
Elizabeth Barnes Social Identities and Transformative Experience
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In this paper, I argue that whether, how, and to what extent an experience is transformative is often highly contingent. I then further argue that sometimes social conditions are a major factor in whether a certain type of experience is often or typically transformative. Sometimes social conditions make it easy for a type of experience to be transformative, and sometimes they make it hard for a type of experience to be transformative. This, I claim, can sometimes be a matter of social justice: social conditions can make transformativeness too easy or too hard, in a way that harms people.
63. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
Dana Sarah Howard Transforming Others: On the Limits of "You'll Be Glad I Did It" Reasoning
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We often find ourselves in situations in which it is up to us to make decisions on behalf of others. How can we determine whether such decisions are morally justified, especially if those decisions may change who it is these others end up becoming? In this paper, I will evaluate one plausible kind of justification that may tempt us: we may want to justify our decision by appealing to the likelihood that the other person will be glad we made that specific choice down the line. Although it is tempting, I ultimately argue that we should reject this sort of appeal as a plausible justification for the moral permissibility of our vicarious decisions. This is because the decisions that we make on behalf of another may affect the interests and values that that person will hold in the future. As I will show, this complicates the justificatory relationship between present decisions and future attitudes, since the latter can depend on the former.
64. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
Ruth Chang Transformative Choices
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This paper proposes a way to understand transformative choices, choices that change ‘who you are.’ First, it distinguishes two broad models of transformative choice: 1) ‘event-based’ transformative choices in which some event—perhaps an experience—downstream from a choice transforms you, and 2) ‘choice-based’ transformative choices in which the choice itself—and not something downstream from the choice—transforms you. Transformative choices are of interest primarily because they purport to pose a challenge to standard approaches to rational choice. An examination of the event-based transformative choices of L. A. Paul and Edna Ullman-Margalit, however, suggests that event-based transformative choices don’t raise any difficulties for standard approaches to rational choice. An account of choice-based transformative choices—and what it is to be transformed—is then proposed. Transformative choices so understood not only capture paradigmatic cases of transformative choice but also point the way to a different way of thinking about rational choice and agency.
65. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
John Collins Neophobia
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L. A. Paul argues that epistemically transformative choice poses a special problem for standard theories of decision: when values of outcomes cannot be known in advance, deliberation cannot even get started. A standard response to this is to represent ignorance of the nature of an experience as uncertainty about its utility. Assign subjective probabilities over the range of possible utilities it may have, and an expected utility for the outcome can be figured despite the agent’s ignorance of its nature. But this response to Paul’s challenge seems inadequate. Decision theory should leave conceptual room for rational neophobia. A decision theory like Isaac Levi’s, which allows for indeterminacy in utility, might accomodate the phenomenon. Levi’s discussion of indeterminate utility has focused on examples of risk aversion like the Allais problem and on situations in which there are conflicts of value. Cases of unknowable value arising in transformative choice problems might be handled similarly.
66. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
Rachel McKinnon Trans*formative Experiences
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What happens when we consider transformative experiences from the perspective of gender transitions? In this paper I suggest that at least two insights emerge. First, trans* persons’ experiences of gender transitions show some limitations to L. A. Paul’s (2015) decision theoretic account of transformative decisions. This will involve exploring some of the phenomenology of coming to know that one is trans, and in coming to decide to transition. Second, what epistemological effects are there to undergoing a transformative experience? By connecting some experiences of gender transitions to feminist standpoint epistemology, I argue that radical changes in one’s identity and social location also radically affects one’s access to knowledge in ways not widely appreciated in contemporary epistemology.
67. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
Nathaniel Sharadin How You Can Reasonably Form Expectations When You're Expecting
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L. A. Paul has argued that an ordinary, natural way of making a decision—by reflecting on the phenomenal character of the experiences one will have as a result of that decision—cannot yield rational decision in certain cases. Paul’s argument turns on the (in principle) epistemically inaccessible phenomenal character of certain experiences. In this paper I argue that, even granting Paul a range of assumptions, her argument doesn’t work to establish its conclusion. This is because, as I argue, the phenomenal character of an experience supervenes on epistemically accessible facts about its non-phenomenal character plus what the deciding agent is like. Because there are principles that link the non-phenomenal character of experiences (together with what a particular agent is like) to the phenomenal character of experiences, agents can reasonably form expectations about the valence of the phenomenal character of the experiences that they are deciding whether to undergo. These reasonable expectations are, I argue, enough to make the ordinary, natural way of making a decision yield rational decision.
68. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
Muhammad Velji Change Your Look, Change Your Luck: Religious Self-Transformation and Brute Luck Egalitarianism
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My intention in this paper is to reframe the practice of veiling as an embodied practice of self-development and self-transformation. I argue that practices like these cannot be handled by the choice/chance distinction relied on by those who would restrict religious minority accommodations. Embodied self-transformation necessarily means a change in personal identity and this means the religious believer cannot know if they will need religious accommodation when they begin their journey of piety. Even some luck egalitarians would find leaning exclusively on preference and choice to find who should be burdened with paying the full costs of certain choices in one’s life too morally harsh to be justifiable. I end by briefly illustrating an alternative way to think about religious accommodation that does not rely on the choice/chance distinction.
69. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
Ryan Kemp The Self-Transformation Puzzle: On the Possibility of Radical Self-Transformation
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In this paper, I argue that cases of radical selftransformation (cases in which an agent willfully changes a foundational element of their motivational structure) constitute an important philosophical puzzle. Though our inclination to hold people responsible for such changes suggests that we regard radical transformation as (in some sense) self-determined, it is difficult to conceive how a transformation that extends to the heart of an agent’s practical life can be attributed to the agent at all. While I contend that the best way to solve this puzzle is to deny that radical transformations are in fact self-determined, many maintain the opposite. The defense of my thesis involves showing how the conditions that must be met in order to coherently attribute transformation to an agent are not satisfied in cases of radical transformation. Radical transformation is, thus, something that happens to an agent, not something that is done by her.
70. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 4
Kristján Kristjánsson Grief: An Aristotelian Justification of an Emotional Virtue
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This article has three interrelated aims. The first is to analyze the concept of grief; the second is to argue for the putative rationality of grief (against Donald Gustafson’s contention to the contrary); and the third is to offer a moral justification of grief along broadly Aristotelian lines as an intrinsically valuable trait of character—a virtue. With regard to this third and ultimate aim, I argue not only that grief plays an unappreciated positive role in our moral experiences but flesh out a case for what exactly that positive moral role is. More precisely, I argue that grief is best justified as an Aristotelian desert-based emotional trait, incorporating two distinct desert-motivated desires, one specifically directed at the memory of the dead person as deserving of homage, the other more cosmically focusing on the general undeservingness of good people passing away. The argument goes against the grain of most previous instrumental justifications of grief and palpably violates David Konstan’s contention that grief involves “no reference to desert.”
71. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 4
Robert C. Roberts The Normative and the Empirical in the Study of Gratitude
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Recent empirical work on the virtue of gratitude raises questions about the limits of that research and its methods to address normative questions about gratitude. I distinguish two kinds of norms for the emotion of gratitude—norms of genuineness and norms of excellence. I examine two kinds of empirical studies that aim to establish or contribute to the norms for gratitude: a so-called “prototype” approach, and a narrative vignettes approach, finding the latter far superior, and suggest various refinements that might improve accuracy. The main emotion types, of which gratitude is an example, have a conceptual structure that must be reflected in any normative analysis, and is far better reflected in the vignettes approach. Ultimately, however, formulation of norms of genuineness and of virtue must come from one or another tradition of careful reflection and debate about such concepts as gratitude; and the representatives of such traditions are philosophers and theologians.
72. 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.
73. 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.
74. 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.
75. 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.
76. 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.
77. 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.
78. 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.
79. 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.
80. 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.