How Much Should We Be Moved by the Fate of Anna Karenina?


Authors
Aaron Smuts
Rhode Island College
Abstract
It is widely assumed that we can meaningfully talk about emotional reactions as being appropriate or inappropriate. Much of the discussion has focused on one kind of appropriateness, that of fittingness. An emotional response is appropriate only if it fits its object. For instance, fear only fits dangerous things. There is another dimension of appropriateness that has been relatively ignored — proportionality. For an emotional reaction to be appropriate not only must the object fit, the reaction should be of the appropriate intensity. It should be proportional. The problem for any attempt to develop norms of appropriateness is that proportionality is a factor of how much the person cares about the focus. But, as I argue, it is not clear how we should normatively assess care. I present problems for a few ways to assess the normativity of care and argue that the difficulties are compounded when it comes to fiction.
Keywords paradox of fiction  emotion  care  proportionality
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