In this tribute to the work of Robert Solomon, I address a topic that occupied him frequently in the last 20 years of his life, and about which he wrote a book and several articles: the relation(s) between the emotions and justice as a personal virtue. I hope to clarify Solomon’s views using three distinctions that seem implicit in his writings, among (1) justice as general virtue and justice as a particular virtue, (2) objective justice and justice as a virtue, (...) and (3) an emotion and a passion. Using these three distinctions and a fourfold schema of emotional objects that seems implied by the foregoing discussion, I argue that an account of emotions like Solomon’s, which construes emotions as in crucial ways like judgments, contains resources for grasping in some detail how particular emotions are related to the virtue of justice. Among these emotions, I pay special attention to compassion. (shrink)
Three kinds of emotional consciousness are distinguished in this article: feeling awareness, intellectual awareness, and bare awareness. All are important to three moral properties that emotions may have: epistemic, practical, and relational. The bulk of this article is devoted to the third dimension of moral value, that emotions are constitutive of personal relationships such as friendship, enmity, good and bad parenthood, and collegiality. The conception of emotions as concern-based construals (Roberts, 2003) is put to work to explain how felt and (...) intellectually conscious emotions are constitutive of the qualities of such relationships. The relational value of emotions interacts with their epistemic and practical values. (shrink)
This paper clarifies the vice of pride by distinguishing it from emotions that are symptomatic of it and from virtuous dispositions that go by the same name, by identifying the disposition (humility) that is its virtue-counterpart, and by distinguishing its kinds. The analysis is aided by the conception of emotions as concern-based construals and the idea that pride can be a dispositional concern of a particular type or family of types.
From the ferment of recent debates about the intellectual virtues, Roberts and Wood develop an approach they call 'regulative epistemology', exploring the connection between knowledge and intellectual virtue. In the course of their argument they analyse particular virtues of intellectual life - such as courage, generosity, and humility - in detail.
Life, on a day to day basis, is a sequence of emotional states: hope, disappointment, irritation, anger, affection, envy, pride, embarrassment, joy, sadness and many more. We know intuitively that these states express deep things about our character and our view of the world. But what are emotions and why are they so important to us? In one of the most extensive investigations of the emotions ever published, Robert Roberts develops a novel conception of what emotions are and then applies (...) it to a large range of types of emotion and related phenomena. In so doing he lays the foundations for a deeper understanding of our evaluative judgments, our actions, our personal relationships and our fundamental well-being. Aimed principally at philosophers and psychologists, this book will certainly be accessible to readers in other disciplines such as religion and anthropology. (shrink)
What is the relation between the perfection that Christians have in Christ, by dint of his substitutionary Atonement for sinners, and the virtues to which we are called as believers? How does the Atonement affect the moral life of Christians and how are we to understand our virtues in the light of what God has done for us in Christ? This paper identifies three interactions between the Atonement and our virtues: the generative aspect, the dual attitude aspect, and the pervasion (...) of Atonement aspect. Each of these aspects suggests a proposal for how moral and spiritual nurture should be pursued in the church. (shrink)
A particular conception of the enterprise of character ethics is proposed, in which the central preoccupation of the discipline is to explore the logical-psychological features of particular virtues. An attraction of this approach is the prospect it holds out of promoting in its practitioners and readers the virtue of moral wisdom. Such analysis is sensitive to differences among moral traditions which imply differences in the logical-psychological features of versions of types of virtues. Thus Christian generosity could be expected to have (...) some features which differentiate it from Aristotelian or Stoic generosity. On the proposed view, the aim is not to produce a theory of the virtues which, it is argued, is likely to be reductivist and thus systematically distorting. Instead, the aim is produce “grammatical” analyses of them. To this end a series of open-ended questions are provided, to guide the exploration. The method is illustrated by aschematic analysis of the virtue of gratitude. The paper ends with remarks about the power and limits of such analysis to produce moral wisdom. (shrink)
Recent books by Paul Johnston, D. Z. Phillips, Philip Shields, and B. R. Tilghman all depict Wittgenstein as centrally concerned with ethics, but they range from representing his main works as expressing and advocating a particular religious-ethical outlook (Shields) to arguing that his work has no ethical content but aims primarily to clarify such logical distinctions as that between ethical and empirical judgments (Johnston). All four books raise the question about the moral philosopher's proper role, and each suggests a rather (...) different answer. Via the discussion of these books, I argue that Wittgenstein's stress on diversity in the ways of human life, his notion of conceptual grammar, the idea of a perspicuous representation, his lifelong involvement with art and his suggestions about its connection with morality, and his preoccupation with aspect-seeing-all suggest new possibilities of rehabilitating the historically recurrent idea that the philosopher may be a moral sage. (shrink)
Emotions enter into the structure of Christian virtues in especially central ways because of special features of the Christian virtues-system. Four kinds of virtues can be distinguished-emotion virtues, behavioral virtues, virtues of will power, and attitudinal virtues. A detailed examination of an example of a Christian virtue from each of the last three classes discloses the structural dependency of these virtues on the Christian emotions.
This essay explores the concept of a sense of humor in an effort to determine how this might be a peculiarly Christian virtue. Not every sense of humor is a virtue, much less a Christian one. A Christian sense of humor, being a capacity to be struck by incongruities of character and behavior (in oneself and others) that the Christian stories and concepts bring to light, is a kind of "vision," and thus a form of Christian discernment. When turned upon (...) oneself, it is a form of humility. Also, Christian humor can be a bridge for non-Christians and half-hearted Christians to the things of the Spirit. (shrink)
Five dimensions of amusement are ethically searched: incongruity, perspectivity, dissociation, enjoyment, and freshness. Amusement perceives incongruities and virtues are formally congruities between one's character and one's nature. An ethical sense of humor is a sense for incongruities between people's behavior and character, and their telos. To appreciate any humor one must adopt a perspective, and in the case of ethical amusement this is the standpoint of one who possesses the virtues. In being amused at the incongruity of some human foible, (...) one is dissociated from it, and adopts a ?higher? perspective. Thus a sense of humor about one's own foibles is a capacity of character?transcendence; but character?transcendence is basic to the very concept of a moral virtue. The prima facie moral dubiousness of enjoying failures of human fulfilment leads to placing certain restrictions on such enjoyment: a sense of humor cannot be a virtue unless allied with compassion and hope. Finally, amusement implies a certain vivacity of perception of the incongruity in question. It is thus a way, not merely of knowing or judging that certain things are fitting and others not, but of ?seeing? that. (shrink)
This essay evaluates two arguments found in John Morreall’s Taking Laughter Seriously: That Christianity is incompatible with a sense of humor since the latter requires that a person take nothing with absolute seriousness, and that God can have no sense of humor because he is omniscient. I point out that seriousness about something is a necessary condition of humor and that what people find funny is in part a function of what they take seriously. I illustrate these points with examples (...) from Samuel Johnson and SorenKierkegaard. Then I show how ultimate seriousness is compatible with a sense of humor, by appeal to Kierkegaard’s notion of a “way out” of responsibility for the object of one’s seriousness. Here I illustrate with St. Francis of Assisi, William James, and Kierkegaard.Morreall’s claim that God’s omniscience rules out his having a sense of humor turns on the thesis, fundamental to his book, that humor depends on “psychological shift,” which he mistakenly identifies with surprise. I distinguish these concepts, show that humor should not be construed even in terms of the (weaker) concept of psychological shift, and suggest a way of understanding God’s omniscience such that it is compatible with his sense of humor. (shrink)