Defining Optimisms

A Tribute to Ronald de Sousa, Edited by Julien Deonna, Christine Tappolet and Fabrice Teroni in 2022 (2022)
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To be optimistic, it is standardly assumed, is to have positive expectations. I here argue that this definition is correct but captures only one variety of optimism – here called factual optimism. It leaves out two other important varieties of optimism. The first – focal optimism – corresponds to the idea of seeing the glass half full. The second – axiological optimism – consists in the view that good is stronger than bad. Those three varieties of optimism are irreducible to each other and do not belong to a common kind. I define each of these, characterize their respective correctness conditions, and contrast hope with optimism.

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Olivier Massin
Université de Neuchâtel


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