The first modern philosophical exploration of gratitude



Terrance McConnell

cloth EAN: 978-1-56639-038-5 (ISBN: 1-56639-038-9)
$68.50, Apr 93, Out of Stock Unavailable
288 pp 5.5x8.25

"This is a solid piece of work. The author has done the profession of philosophy the service of putting into more helpful order than anyone else has done (to my knowledge) the variety of issues and often confusing views and positions that are to be found in the literature on the topic of gratitude."
Claudia Card, University of Wisconsin

In this century, the topic of gratitude has received little more than passing attention, yet, in earlier periods of Anglo-American moral philosophy, ingratitude was treated as a serious vice. Terrance McConnell provides the first contemporary philosophical exploration of the phenomenon of gratitude. Arguing that it is both an obligation and a moral sentiment, he discusses ways in which gratitude seems to conflict with other important theses in ethical theory. He offers examples from several contexts, including political and filial obligations and relations between friends and casual acquaintances.

McConnell describes conditions that generate debts of gratitude, the requirements of such debts, and the relationship between moral requirements and emotions. He discusses the question of whether gratitude toward someone interferes with the impartiality that is morally required in other situations. He also shows how various moral traditions—utilitarianism, Kantianism, and the ethics of virtue—can account for some aspects of the morality of gratitude, but not all.



1. When Gratitude Is Owed
Simmons's Conditions • The Efforts of the Benefactor • The Motives of the Benefactor • The Intentions of the Benefactor • The Desires of the Beneficiary • The Receipt of Benefits • Conclusion

2. What Gratitude Requires
Doubts About Gratitude • Gratitude and Equal Benefits • Inappropriate Responses • Gratitude, Feelings, and Reasons for Action • A Proposal • When Has a Debt of Gratitude Been Discharged? • Imperfect Duties • Responses to Difficulties

3. Gratitude, Feelings, and Emotions
The Problem and the Positions • The "Indirect Control" View • Adams's View • A Third View • Advantages of the Third View • Conclusion

4. Gratitude and Impartiality
Two Cases • Impartialism: An Initial Defense • Problems for Personalists • Further Suspicions About Impartialism • Partiality and the Role-Related Obligations • Conclusion

5. Gratitude and Moral Theories
Sidgwick's Utilitarianism • Kant on Gratitude • The Ethics of Virtue • Conclusion

6. Gratitude and Political Obligations
What Is to Be Shown • The Gratitude Account of Political Obligations • An Implication of the Argument • Objections • Does Gratitude Require Obedience to the Law

7. Gratitude and Filial Obligations
The Task • The Gift of Life? • English's Friendship Account • Criticisms of the Friendship Account • The Gratitude Account • Complications • Pathological Demands • Conclusion



About the Author(s)

Terrance McConnell is Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Subject Categories

Philosophy and Ethics


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