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It is a commonplace that blameworthy agents deserve blame, and praiseworthy agents deserve praise. But while blame has in recent years received considerable and often illuminating philosophical discussion (e.g. Bell 2013; Coates and Tognazzini 2013; Hieronymi 2004; Mason 2011; McKenna 2012; Pickard 2014; Scanlon 2008; Sher 2008; Smith 2007; Talbert 2012; Wallace 1994, 2011; Wolf 2011), the nature and norms of praise remain relatively unanalyzed. Since the publication of Peter Strawson’s highly influential essay “Freedom and Resentment” (1962), philosophers have increasingly understood moral responsibility in terms of our susceptibility to a range of moral emotions (or “reactive attitudes”) in response to expressions of good and ill will. But while Strawson himself includes blaming and praising emotions among the reactive attitudes, subsequent philosophical work in this area has concentrated overwhelmingly on blame. Our philosophical vocabulary of praise is impoverished. (But this is not because we fail to respond positively to praiseworthy actions. Nor do we fail to recognize the importance of so responding. The popular saying, ‘give credit where credit is due’ is an injunction to just this.) This omission matters in part because blameworthiness and praiseworthiness are opposed modes of moral responsibility—i.e. they are taken to be two—perhaps the two— ways of being morally responsible. A negative effect of the disproportionate attention dedicated to blame is that philosophers have imported to their conceptions of moral responsibility in general features that are in fact specific to blame(-worthiness). Resultantly, we not only lack an account of the nature and norms of praise; philosophical work on our responsibility practices displays a narrow, quasi-legalistic, moral orientation, one in which the concepts of normative demand, right-violation, and sanction reign supreme. If, however, we seek to understand a full range of what it is to be, and to respond to, responsible agents, it is incumbent upon us to enrich our vocabulary of praise. My dissertation takes a step in this direction. In chapter 1, I offer a novel account of gratitude and on its basis argue that the significance of benevolence is limited in several ways that have not been duly appreciated by pure quality of will theorists of moral responsibility—i.e. those who think that quality of will is all that matters in assessing an agent’s moral responsibility—and especially those quality of will theorists who take the reactive attitudes to comprise our responsibility responses, i.e. Strawsonians. The claim that I most extensively defend in that chapter is that gratitude is susceptible to retroactive feedback, according to which the (unforeseen and unintended) consequences of the benefactor’s manifestation of quality of will can give the beneficiary reason to be more grateful to their benefactor than they were for the immediately willed benefit, despite the fact that the benefactor’s degree of benevolence is recognized as remaining diachronically stable. If this “gratitude-feedback thesis” is accepted, in those cases where gratitude constitutes a form of moral praise, as Strawsonians maintain it sometimes does, it is a matter of luck in consequences whether an agent’s action garners her more or less praise. Another way to put this is to say that the moral worth of an action, its praiseworthiness, may be vulnerable to resultant moral luck (Nagel 1979; Williams 1981). In chapter 2, I provide an analysis of the nature of pride that overcomes the shortcomings of the restrictive approach to pride, on the one hand, and the disjunctive approach, on the other. On the restrictive approach, pride involves viewing an object as expressive of one’s agency and as something for which one is thereby morally responsible. On this view, to be proud of one’s naturally good memory is either to misrepresent one’s memory as a product of one’s agency, or to mislabel one’s happiness that one has a good memory. On the disjunctive view, by contrast, there are really two distinct emotions called “pride”: a moral emotion and a non-moral one. Although the disjunctive view accommodates pride for traits and other non-actions, it fails to explain the sense we have that there is unity to our range of pride emotions. A capacious and unified view of pride’s objects is available, and through its outline and defense I shed light on the relationship between agency and practical identity, one reflecting that we are, even as agents, more than what we do. In chapter 3 I argue that interpersonal praise cannot be understood in terms of deontic concepts like “moral demand”, and that the assumption that it can be so understood—which I call the demand prejudice— has a stronghold largely owing to the kind of dominance that the accountability model of responsibility has enjoyed. I propose a novel axiological conception of responsibility in the estimability sense. Estimability characterizes our aspirational stance of holding agents up to interpersonal ideals. It is in light of this latter stance, which I identify as one of normative hope, that our praise of others is fruitfully understood. I then provide a way of unifying accountability and estimability by construing both as forms of responsibility in the deserved moral address sense. On this picture, accountability blame and estimability praise are both paradigmatically expressed through moral address (demand and affirmation, respectively), which forms of address characteristically impact their targets’ interests. In chapter 4, I challenge the assumption that blame is unique in being governed by norms of “standing”, like the non-hypocrisy condition. I first motivate a shift in attention from the target of praise to the person doing the praising, i.e. the praiser, by introducing two relatively uncontroversial norms governing the praise of candidate praisers: an epistemic condition and a right-relationship condition. I then make a case for the existence and importance of norms of standing to praise. Specifically, I argue that the praise of candidate praisers is governed by what I call the “familiarity condition”: for S to appropriately praise T for φ-ing, S’s praise must be based in familiarity with the value expressed in T’s φ-ing. Praise that fails to satisfy this condition is vulnerable to a distinctive kind of criticism, one based in considerations comparable to, but importantly distinct from, those underlying the inappropriateness of hypocritical blame. Reflection on the familiarity condition sheds light on a valuable feature of our responsibility practices that is otherwise overlooked, namely the phenomenon of co-valuation that successful praise engenders. As a whole, In Praise of Praise proposes that we think of moral responsibility as bearing not only on questions of how, who, and under what conditions we have the permission (or perhaps duty) to blame, but on questions about who we— especially as participants of a range of ideal-governed relationships— aspire to be.


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