The fitting resolution of anger

Oded Na’aman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

How can we explain the rational diminution of backward-looking emotions (e.g., grief, regret, and anger) without resorting to pragmatic or wrong kind of reason explanations? That is to say, how can the diminution of these emotions not only be rational but fitting? In this paper, I offer an answer to this question by considering the case of anger. In Sect. 1, I examine Pamela Hieronymi’s account of forgiveness as the rational resolution of resentment. I argue that Hieronymi’s account rests on an assumption about the rationality of emotions (and of attitudes in general)—namely, that a rational (and fitting) change in emotion entails a change in the fact that constitutes the reason for the emotion. Then, in Sect. 2, I consider Agnes Callard’s recent criticism of accounts like Hieronymi’s as well as Callard’s alternative account of the rational resolution of anger. I argue that Callard offers a promising account but fails to explain how it avoids the criticism she levels against Hieronymi and others. Finally, in Sect. 3, I reject Hieronymi’s assumption and argue that an emotion can cease to be fitting without any change in the fact that constitutes the reason for it. I also explain how my proposal can complement Callard’s account of the rational dissipation of anger. My discussion of anger leads to a solution to the general problem about backward-looking emotions: a fitting backward-looking emotion can fittingly diminish when it is part of a process that is itself a fitting response to the past occurrence.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2417-2430
Number of pages14
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Volume177
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Nature B.V.

Keywords

  • Anger
  • Emotion
  • Fittingness
  • Forgiveness
  • Moral psychology
  • Reasons

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