Gratitude, Self-Assessment, and Moral Community
- 303 Downloads
Several philosophers have held that gratitude is best understood as a response to beneficence and that one owes gratitude under a restricted set of conditions.2 Patrick Fitzgerald argues, however, in “Gratitude and Justice” that we can and should feel it in the absence of beneficence and questions these conditions. He draws attention to cases where individuals claim to feel gratitude toward those who have harmed them, and he concludes based on these anomalous cases that commentators have underestimated gratitude’s ethical significance because they have mistakenly thought it should be understood only as a response to beneficence.
This essay questions his more permissive account of gratitude and defends the standard view that it is best understood as a response to beneficence. Although it presents itself as a critique of Fitzgerald, my aim in doing so is to draw attention to an overlooked but morally significant aspect of gratitude. More specifically, an overlooked aspect...