Fitting anxiety and prudent anxiety

Synthese 199 (3-4):8555-8578 (2021)
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Most agree that, in some special scenarios, prudence can speak against feeling a fitting emotion. Some go further, arguing that the tension between fittingness and prudence afflicts some emotions in a fairly general way. This paper goes even further: it argues that, when it comes to anxiety, the tension between fittingness and prudence is nearly inescapable. On any plausible theory, an enormous array of possible outcomes are both bad and epistemically uncertain in the right way to ground fitting anxiety. What’s more, the fittingness of an emotion is a demanding, not a permissive, normative status. So the norms of fitting emotion demand a great deal of anxiety. For almost any realistic agent, it would be deeply imprudent to feel anxiety in a way that meets the demands set by norms of fitting emotion.

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James Fritz
Virginia Commonwealth University


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