In their new book, Emotion, Character, and Responsibility, John Sabini and Maury Silver examine a conflict in the way that psychologists, philosophers, and ordinary people think about character. Most of us share an intuition that emotions are central to who we are and the characters we have, even though emotions are unchosen. Yet we also share the intuition that action, choice, and responsibility are what count about our characters. This book deals with this conflict by exploring the relations between the chosen and unchosen, moral and nonmoral, in sincerity, loyalty, sympathy, shame, guilt, and embarrassment as they affect our characters. The conflict is resolved by finding an aesthetic as well as moral basis of character. Along the way the authors consider questions such as can one truly avow ones feelings and still be insincere? What, if anything, is lacking in the Star Trek character Mr. Spock? Why is loyalty toward particular people and not people in general a duty? Is it a good idea for guilt to replace shame? How can we describe genuine self-deception without relying on unconscious knowledge? The book ends with the radical proposal that some of the emotions do not exist, at least not in the way that motives exist. We will not find them on any present or future brain scan. And yet, the authors argue, emotions matter.
- Publication Date:
- 14 / 08 / 1998