The View from Here: On Affirmation, Attachment, and the Limits of Regret

Hardcover | April 20, 2013

byR. Jay Wallace

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Must we always later regret actions that were wrong for us to perform at the time? Can there ever be good reason to affirm things in the past that we know were unfortunate? In this original work of moral philosophy, R. Jay Wallace shows that the standpoint from which we look back on our livesis shaped by our present attachments - to persons, to the projects that imbue our lives with meaning, and to life itself. Through a distinctive "affirmation dynamic", these attachments commit us to affirming the necessary conditions of their objects. The result is that we are sometimes unable toregret events and circumstances that were originally unjustified or otherwise somehow objectionable.Wallace traces these themes through a range of examples. A teenage girl makes an ill-advised decision to conceive a child - but her love for the child once it has been born makes it impossible for her to regret that earlier decision. The painter Paul Gauguin abandons his family to pursue his trueartistic calling (and eventual life project) in Tahiti - which means he cannot truly regret his abdication of familial responsibility. The View from Here offers new interpretations of these classic cases, challenging their treatment by Bernard Williams and others. Another example is the "bourgeoispredicament": we are committed to affirming the regrettable social inequalities that make possible the expensive activities that give our lives meaning. Generalizing from such situations, Wallace defends the view that our attachments inevitably commit us to affirming historical conditions that wecannot regard as worthy of being affirmed - a modest form of nihilism.

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Must we always later regret actions that were wrong for us to perform at the time? Can there ever be good reason to affirm things in the past that we know were unfortunate? In this original work of moral philosophy, R. Jay Wallace shows that the standpoint from which we look back on our livesis shaped by our present attachments - to pe...

R. Jay Wallace is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. His publications include Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments (1994), Normativity and the Will (OUP, 2006), and numerous papers on moral psychology, the theory of practical reason, the philosophy of responsibility, and other topics in philosophica...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:April 20, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199941351

ISBN - 13:9780199941353

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments1. Introduction2. Looking Backward (with Feeling)2.1 "For Sorrow There is No Remedy."2.2 Regret and Agency2.3 Preferences about the Past2.4 Regret and Affirmation3. Affirming the Unacceptable3.1 The Young Girl's Child3.2 Affirmation and Justification3.3 Mixed Feelings3.4 Meaning, Disability, and Politics4. Luck, Justification, and Moral Complaint4.1 Williams' Gauguin4.2 Affirming One's Life4.3 Affirmation, Justification, and Morality4.4 Deep and Shallow Ambivalence5. The Bourgeois Predicament5.1 Meaning and its Conditions5.2 Obstacles to Affirmation5.3 The Bourgeois Predicament5.4 Redemption, Withdrawal, Denial6. A Somewhat Pessimistic Conclusion