Is Anger a Hostile Emotion?

Review of Philosophy and Psychology (2021)
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In this article I argue that characterizations of anger as a hostile emotion may be mistaken. My project is empirically informed and is partly descriptive, partly diagnostic. It is descriptive in that I am concerned with what anger is, and how it tends to manifest, rather than with what anger should be or how moral anger is manifested. The orthodox view on anger takes it to be, descriptively, an emotion that aims for retribution. This view fits well with anger being a hostile emotion, as retribution is punitive. I will argue that a different view of anger deserves our attention. On this alternative view, anger aims for recognition of harms done, rather than for the punishment of those who have committed them. I argue that we have reason to favour a strong view that excludes retribution from anger’s main aims. In addition, I offer a diagnosis of the reasons that led the retributive view of anger to become, and remain, orthodoxy. This diagnosis provides indirect reason to give my descriptive proposal serious consideration, for it highlights that the orthodox view has dominated folk and philosophical conceptions of anger for reasons that do not speak in favour of the view’s veracity. The view that anger is a hostile emotion will therefore emerge as in need of serious scrutiny.

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Author's Profile

Laura Silva
Université Laval

References found in this work

The Theory of Moral Sentiments.Adam Smith - 1759 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya.
Emotions, Values, and Agency.Christine Tappolet - 2016 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The emotions: a philosophical introduction.Julien A. Deonna & Fabrice Teroni - 2012 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Fabrice Teroni.
Emotions, Value, and Agency.Christine Tappolet - 2016 - Oxford: Oxford University Press UK.

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