Rowman and Littlefield International

The Moral Psychology of Gratitude

Edited by Robert Roberts, Daniel Telech

Publication date:

17 January 2019

Length of book:

358 pages


Rowman & Littlefield International

ISBN-13: 9781786606020

Expressions of gratitude abound. Hardly a book is published that does not include in its preface or acknowledgments some variation on, “I am grateful to…for…” Indeed, most achievements come to be only through the help of others. We value the benevolence of others, and when we—or our loved ones—are the recipients of benevolence, our emotional response is often one of gratitude.

But, are we bound to the requirement of ‘repaying’ our benefactors in some way? If we are, and there are—as ordinary language suggests—debts of gratitude, what kind of debts are these? Does the appropriateness of my gratitude require that my benefactor in fact intended to benefit me (in just the way she did)? Is there a difference between feeling grateful and being grateful? Is a precondition of my being grateful to another that I respect her? Do we owe a special sort of gratitude to those who have shaped us into the persons we are? What are the psychological and normative relations between gratitude the emotion, and gratitude the virtue?

These are among the questions carefully addressed in The Moral Psychology of Gratitude. This volume provides readers with the state-of-the-art in research on gratitude. It does so in the form of sixteen never-before published articles on the emotion by leading voices in philosophy and the sciences of the mind.

In fifteen thoughtful essays and an introduction, The Moral Psychology of Gratitude expands our thinking about gratitude in new directions. Contributors analyze gratitude from a number of philosophical angles, in essays about reasons and action, rights and duties, gratitude as a reactive attitude, and gratitude and virtue. Some philosophical discussions, such as those of Carr and Roberts, are informed by literature. An interdisciplinary turn is also taken in the two contributions to the section on ‘Authentic Selves and Brains.’ In addition to philosophers, a neuroscientist and two psychologists offer their perspectives on gratitude. The result is a volume offering a unique, state-of-the-art examination of gratitude that is not to be missed.