Does gratitude to R for ϕ-ing imply gratitude that R ϕ-ed?

Philosophical Studies 177 (11):3245-3262 (2020)
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Many find it plausible that for a given beneficiary, Y, benefactor, R, and action, ϕ, Y’s being grateful to R for ϕ-ing implies Y’s being grateful that R ϕ-ed. According to some philosophers who hold this view, all instances of gratitude to, or “prepositional gratitude,” are also instances of gratitude that, or “propositional gratitude.” These philosophers believe there is a single unified concept of gratitude, a phenomenon that is essentially gratitude that, and whose manifestations sometimes have additional features that make them instances of gratitude to as well. In this article, I show that view to be mistaken. I base my argument on two hypothetical cases, in each of which a beneficiary, Y, is grateful to a benefactor, R, for ϕ-ing, but not grateful that R ϕ-ed. Generalizing from those cases and other cases of gratitude, I argue that prepositional gratitude is the proper response to benevolence-motivated action and propositional gratitude consists in a beneficiary’s judging a state of affairs to be valuable for himself and welcoming that state of affairs. Because not every instance of a benefactor’s acting benevolently toward a beneficiary is something that beneficiary finds valuable for himself and welcomes, it is possible to be grateful to a benefactor for ϕ-ing but not grateful that she ϕ-ed. Prepositional gratitude and propositional gratitude can each occur without the other and are thus two distinct phenomena. I conclude by explaining the importance of accurately understanding the relationship between prepositional gratitude and propositional gratitude.

Author's Profile

Tony Manela
Siena College


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