What Pessimism Is

Journal of Philosophical Research 37:337-356 (2012)
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On the standard view, pessimism is a philosophically intractable topic. Against the standard view, I hold that pessimism is a stance, or compound of attitudes, commitments and intentions. This stance is marked by certain beliefs—first and foremost, that the bad prevails over the good—which are subject to an important qualifying condition: they are always about outcomes and states of affairs in which one is personally invested. This serves to distinguish pessimism from other views with which it is routinely conflated— including skepticism and nihilism—and to allow for the extent to which pessimism necessarily involves more than the intellectual endorsement of a doctrine.

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Warden Prescott
New York University


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