Gratitude Toward Veterans: Why Americans Should Not Be Very Grateful to Veterans

Lexington Books (2014)
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Abstract

Americans are very grateful to veterans. Veterans are celebrated via speeches, statues, memorials, holidays, and affirmative action. They are lavishly praised in public gatherings and private conversations. Contrary to this widespread attitude, I argue that U.S. citizens should not be very grateful to veterans. In evaluating whether the significant gratitude toward veterans is justified, I begin by exploring the nature of gratitude. On my account, one person should be very grateful to a second person just in case the second person reasonably attempted to provide a significant benefit to the first and was primarily motivated by concern for the first’s well-being. I then look at whether veterans typically satisfy these conditions and argue that they do not.

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Stephen Kershnar
Fredonia State University

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