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The Rationality of Anger

Luz Sousa Oliveira E Silva, Laura; (2019) The Rationality of Anger. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Anger has a bad reputation. The Stoics have famously advocated against anger (Nussbaum 2015; Bommarito 2017), while philosophers interested in oppression, particularly feminist philosophers, have on the other hand, highlighted the crucial motivational, political and epistemic value of anger in fighting against the oppressive status quo (Lorde 1981; Frye 1983; hooks 1995; Yancy 2008). I argue that the points of disagreement that emerge from the debate on anger hinge on its nature and (ir)rationality. Disagreement hinges on whether anger is instrumentally beneficial to the angry agent, in terms of its psychological effects and behavioural consequences, on whether anger is of epistemic value, and on how to construe the nature of anger itself. A foundational approach to the debate, one that makes the emotion of anger central, will reveal that anger is a rational phenomenon that can play the positive roles feminist philosophers have afforded it. I provide such a foundational account of anger. The project has four complimentary desiderata; to provide an account of anger’s nature, an account of anger as instrumentally rational for oppressed agents, an account of anger as reason-responsive, and finally an account of anger’s positive epistemic role. I work within two methodological constraints: not to abstract away from how social reality is structured, and to be informed by the most relevant empirical work in the brain and behavioural sciences. In meeting my four desiderata, I provide a currently lacking account of anger as rational. This provides the foundation for its constructive political roles. Four main findings emerge: that the dominant conception of anger should be revised, that anger is an effective and often constructive way of confronting social injustice, that anger, as an emotion, enjoys a sui generis relation to its reasons, and that this in turn allows anger to play distinctive and crucial epistemic roles.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Rationality of Anger
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10079690
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