Toward a Full Theory of Self-Esteem (Part II)

Abstract

In Part I of this essay I presented a general account of self-esteem, arguing that accounts which have previously been offered in the philosophical literature have been inadequate both in their analyses of the concept of self-esteem, and in their prescriptions for healthy self-esteem. More specifically, I argued that the analyses offered by Rawls, Sachs, Thomas, Deigh, Massey, and others are all versions of self-esteem based upon developed capacities, and that all such versions fail in one way or another to meet three intuitive criteria for adequate self-esteem: roughly, that it be high, stable, and well-connected with other important human goods. In this Part II of the essay I present an account of optimal self-esteem--esteem based upon appreciation for what it is to be a human being-arguing that it is psychologically possible and that it measures up to the three criteria for adequacy. The strategy I will employ toward both of these goals is two-fold: first, to show how the sort of capacity-based esteem I criticized as inadequate in Part I can be modified to more closely meet the named criteria for adequacy; and second to show that the sort of self-esteem I will describe as optimal can be seen as a further stage in the development of this improved capacity-based variety.

Author's Profile

Thomas Loughran
University of Notre Dame

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2022-08-08

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