Valuing Anger

In Myisha Cherry & Owen Flanagan (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Anger. Rowman & Littlefield (2018)
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Abstract
It is widely acknowledged that susceptibility to suitable emotional responses is part of what it is to value something. Indeed, the value of at least some things calls for such emotional responses – if we lack them, we don’t respond appropriately to their value. In this paper, I argue that susceptibility to anger is an essential component of valuing other people, ourselves, and our relationships. The main reason is that various modes of valuing, such as respect, self-respect, and love, ground normative expectations towards others and ourselves. And holding someone accountable for violating legitimate normative expectations involves emotions from the anger family, such as resentment and indignation. I hold that such forms of anger, which aim at getting the target to conform to expectations or lower their unduly elevated status, are neither inherently problematic or dispensable parts of the package of attitudes involved in valuing. Finally, thinking about anger’s role in valuing also helps see when it is out of place or immature – roughly, it is often excessive, because we easily exaggerate the magnitude of the value involved, the harm or threat to it, or the degree of the target’s moral responsibility.
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Archival date: 2017-12-11
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