Gratitude towards states of affairs
My mission in this thesis has been to show that gratitude can be felt not only towards other people but also towards states of affairs in general. I began by briefly defining several key aspects and related notions of gratitude which allowed me to continue with my arguments. I argued that both forms of gratitude (targeted and propositional) have enough in common to be regarded as essentially the same type of emotion and attitude. What they have in common is essential to the idea of gratitude and can separate it from other concepts. Firstly, the two forms of gratitude both require some humble recognition of one’s partial dependence on some external circumstances. Secondly, the two forms of gratitude both share a similar action tendency (or response) in which the grateful person seeks to somehow preserve and promote the good that has come one’s way. Thirdly, and most importantly, both forms of gratitude are a special form of valuing—valuing of the good that happens to oneself. In the final chapter, I showed that gratitude towards states of affairs is, contrary to some beliefs, fairly common and even more fundamental than gratitude to other people. Gratitude towards states of affairs, rather than being dismissible as something other than real gratitude and worthy of the philosophical neglect it has received, is instead a foundation to all forms of gratitude and therefore an important topic for further research.
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