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Virtuous and Vicious Anger

by Nicolas Bommarito

I defend an account of when and why anger is morally virtuous or vicious. Anger often manifests what we care about; a sports fan gets angry when her favorite team loses because she cares about the team doing well. Anger, I argue, is made morally virtuous or vicious by the underlying care or concern. Anger is virtuous when it manifests moral concern and vicious when it manifests moral indifference or ill will. In defending this view, I reject two common views about anger and moral character. First, I respond to several arguments that attempt to show that all anger is vicious. Then I respond to the view that some anger is required to be a virtuous person. Anger, on my view, can be morally virtuous but is not a necessary condition for being a virtuous person. This best accommodates not only morally irrelevant failures to get angry but also allows for emotional variation among virtuous people.

ISSN 1559-3061
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