Analyzing Hope: The Live Possibility Account

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Abstract

The orthodox definition of hope suffers from an exclusion problem: it is unable to exclude subjects without hope. In fact, the orthodox definition even allows for despair to be falsely classified as hope. This problem suggests two basic desiderata for a successful analysis of hope; it should solve the exclusion problem, and it should have the resources to explain why, in a given situation, a subject does or does not form a hope. Bearing these desiderata in mind, I assess two recent hope-accounts offered by Jack M. C. Kwong and Cheshire Calhoun. I then offer my own view, which is based on the Jamesian notion of a “live possibility”. I suggest that a possibility needs to reach a certain probability-threshold in order to count as live, and according to my account, to hope is to desire the truth of such a live possibility. This view is well equipped to solve the exclusion problem, and it can explain why a subject does or does not hope.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy

Keywords

  • Hope, William James, Possibility
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Philosophy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020 Jul 21
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes