Grief's Rationality, Backward and Forward

Authors
Michael Cholbi
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Abstract
Grief is our emotional response to the deaths of intimates, and so like many other emotional conditions, it can be appraised in terms of its rationality. A philosophical account of grief's rationality should satisfy a contingency constraint, wherein grief is neither intrinsically rational nor intrinsically irrational. Here I provide an account of grief and its rationality that satisfies this constraint, while also being faithful to the phenomenology of grief experience. I begin by arguing against the best known account of grief's rationality, Gustafson's strategic or forward-looking account, according to which the practical rationality of grief depends on the internal coherence of the component attitudes that explain the behaviors caused by grief, and more exactly, on how these attitudes enable the individual to realize states of affairs that she desires. While I do not deny that episodes of grief can be appraised in terms of their strategic rationality, I deny that strategic rationality is the essential or fundamental basis on which grief's rationality should be appraised. In contrast, the heart of grief's rationality is backward-looking. That is, what primarily makes an episode of grief rational qua grief is the fittingness of the attitudes individuals take toward the experience of a lost relationship, attitudes which in turn generate the desires and behaviors that constitute bereavement. Grief thus derives its essential rationality from the objects it responds to, not from the attitudes causally downstream from that response, and is necessarily irrational when the behaviors that constitute an individual's grieving are inappropriate to the object of that grief. So while the strategic rationality of an episode of grief contributes to whether it is on the whole rational, no episode of grief can be rational unless the actions that constitute grieving accurately gauge the change in a person's normative situation wrought by the loss of her relationship with the deceased.
Keywords grief  moral emotions  fitting attitudes  rationality
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/phpr.12353
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 33,625
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

On Being Attached.Monique Lisa Wonderly - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):223-242.
Ongoing: On Grief’s Open-Ended Rehearsal.Line Ryberg Ingerslev - forthcoming - Continental Philosophy Review:1-18.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Falsely, Sanely, Shallowly.Janet McCracken - 2005 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (1):139-156.
The Rationality of Grief.Carolyn Price - 2010 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 53 (1):20-40.
False Emotions.Tony Milligan - 2008 - Philosophy 83 (2):213-230.
Augustine's Griefs.Paul Helm - 2003 - Faith and Philosophy 20 (4):448-459.
Grief and Recovery.Ryan Preston-Roedder & Erica Preston-Roedder - 2017 - In Anna Gotlib (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Sadness. London: Rowman & Littlefield International.
Grief: A Narrative Account.Peter Goldie - 2011 - Ratio 24 (2):119-137.
Codes Should Address Exploitation of Grief by Photographers.George E. Padgett - 1985 - Journal of Mass Media Ethics 1 (1):50 – 56.
Is 'Normal Grief' a Mental Disorder?S. Wilkinson - 2000 - Philosophical Quarterly 50 (200):289-305.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2015-05-13

Total downloads
123 ( #47,213 of 2,259,937 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #46,520 of 2,259,937 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature