The Ethics of Expectations

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This paper asks two questions about the ethics of expectations: one about the nature of expectations, and one about the wrongs of expectations. Expectations involve a rich constellation of attitudes ranging from beliefs to also include imaginings, hopes, fears, and dreams. As a result, it would be a mistake to treat expectation as merely a theoretical, practical, or evaluative attitude. Sometimes expectations are predictive, like your expectation of rain tomorrow, sometimes prescriptive, like the expectation that your students will do the reading, sometimes proleptic like the hope that your mentee will flourish, and sometimes expectations are peremptory in that they carry the force of moral law, like expecting your child not to bite others because that’s simply not done in polite company. Given the multiple roles played by expectations it shouldn’t be surprising that there are also multiple ways expectations can be wrong to hold, e.g., from expectations that don't match the world to the alienation that accompanies expectations that don't match the person we are. Getting clear on these potential ways expectations can wrong will not only deliver an ethics of expectations that mirrors familiar dilemmas from the ethics of belief, but an ethics of expectations further opens the door for taking seriously an ethics of mental attitudes more generally.
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Archival date: 2021-11-14
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