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How We Hope

How We Hope: A Moral Psychology

Adrienne M. Martin
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    How We Hope
    Book Description:

    What exactly is hope and how does it influence our decisions? InHow We Hope, Adrienne Martin presents a novel account of hope, the motivational resources it presupposes, and its function in our practical lives. She contends that hoping for an outcome means treating certain feelings, plans, and imaginings as justified, and that hope thereby involves sophisticated reflective and conceptual capacities.

    Martin develops this original perspective on hope--what she calls the "incorporation analysis"--in contrast to the two dominant philosophical conceptions of hope: the orthodox definition, where hoping for an outcome is simply desiring it while thinking it possible, and agent-centered views, where hoping for an outcome is setting oneself to pursue it. In exploring how hope influences our decisions, she establishes that it is not always a positive motivational force and can render us complacent. She also examines the relationship between hope and faith, both religious and secular, and identifies a previously unnoted form of hope: normative or interpersonal hope. When we place normative hope in people, we relate to them as responsible agents and aspire for them to overcome challenges arising from situation or character.

    Demonstrating that hope merits rigorous philosophical investigation, both in its own right and in virtue of what it reveals about the nature of human emotion and motivation,How We Hopeoffers an original, sustained look at a largely neglected topic in philosophy.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4870-6
    Subjects: Philosophy, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction What Is Hope?
    (pp. 1-10)

    I first became interested in hope as a subject of philosophical inquiry in 2004, when I took up a postdoctoral fellowship at the national institutes of Health’s Department of Bioethics, and John Kerry began his presidential campaign against George W. Bush. I my daily life, hope was simultaneously an object of such strong approval and suspicion that I began to wonder what, exactly, it is. And, once I started paying close attention to what people said about hope, when they expressed it, and when they reared back from it, I began to think there was a fair amount of confusion...

  5. 1 Beyond the Orthodox Definition of Hope
    (pp. 11-34)

    Recent philosophical work on hope centers on what I will call the “orthodox” definition of hope. According to this definition, hope is a combination of the desire for an outcome and the belief that the outcome is possible but not certain; another way to cast hope, under this definition, is as desire in the context of epistemic uncertainty. This definition has its roots in the early Modern period, and has both advocates and detractors among contemporary philosophers. I am among the detractors, because I think hope is a distinctive practical attitude by which we incorporate our desires for uncertain outcomes...

  6. 2 Incorporation
    (pp. 35-71)

    The element missing from the orthodox definition of hope is a way of seeing one’s situation, such that one stands ready to offer a certain kind of justificatory rationale for the forms of planning, thought, and feeling discussed in the previous chapter. This justificatory rationale is a way of incorporating certain considerations into our rational agency or scheme of ends.¹ If we add this element to the orthodox definition, we are able to explicate cases likeCancer Research,Shawshank Redemption, andLottery Ticket. As I will argue at the end of this chapter, this element is also present in more...

  7. 3 Suicide and Sustenance
    (pp. 72-97)

    The idea that hope is a virtue traces most likely to St. Paul, who included it among the three Christian theological virtues: hope, faith, and charity.¹ Adopting this taxonomy, Aquinas argued that, although hope takes many different objects, it always relies on God as the efficient cause of its object, because we hope only for that which we conceive as good and God is the source of all goodness.² All hope, as long as it does not mistakenly take something bad as its object, is thus virtuous. Despite these roots, acceptance of the claim that hope is a virtue extends...

  8. 4 Faith and Sustenance without Contingency
    (pp. 98-117)

    What is the relation between hope and faith? According to Aquinas, they both ultimately take communion with God as their object. They are nevertheless distinct, because they target different aspects of that communion:

    [H]ope and faith make man adhere to God as to a principle wherefrom certain things accrue to us. now we derive from God both knowledge of truth and the attainment of perfect goodness. Accordingly faith makes us adhere to God, as the source whence we derive the knowledge of truth, since we believe that what God tells us is true: while hope makes us adhere to God,...

  9. 5 Normative Hope
    (pp. 118-140)

    In this chapter, I turn to the way we sometimes place hopeinpeople, and argue that it is a distinctive and fundamental way of relating to peopleinterpersonally. Normatively hoping for a person to live up to some principle of behavior is a way of aspiring on her behalf, which is closely related to but different from holding her responsible for her behavior. I begin, therefore, with strawson, and the idea that we hold people responsible by adopting certain “reactive” feelings or attitudes.

    In his classic 1969 paper, “Freedom and Resentment,” Peter Strawson argues that the question whether we...

  10. Conclusion Human Passivity, Agency, and Hope
    (pp. 141-146)

    The scenarios that originally inspired this investigation point to a quasi-dilemma that people often associate with hope. This quasi-dilemma takes on slightly different casts in different circumstances: in a medical setting, where hoped-for outcomes are largely beyond the hopeful person’s control, people worry about how to avoid “false” hope without losing all hope; in a political setting, where politicians invoke hope in order to draw support, people instead worry about being led down the primrose path, and wonder if the alternative to cynicism is losing touch with reality. Setting aside such variations, the quasi-dilemma is essentially about the challenge of...

  11. Index
    (pp. 147-150)