This episode sees Jamie Murphy present ‘The Angry is Always Right’, a paper from our 2020 annual conference, ‘Engaged Phenomenology’.
Season 5 episode 104: 13 March 2021
Season five of our podcast continues with another presentation from our 2020 annual conference: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’ Online. This episode features Jamie Murphy, University College Cork, Ireland.
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‘The Angry is Always Right’
ABSTRACT: According to a widespread assumption in contemporary literature on the philosophy of emotions, it is possible for a subject to elicit anger for no reason (Nussbaum 2016, Huebner 2018, Cherry 2018, Callard 2018). This talk aims to reject this claim by arguing for the opposite idea: it is impossible for an agent to get angry for no reason. The talk is organized in three parts. Part 1 gives a brief outline of how anger is viewed in contemporary literature, and presents the assumption that anger can occur for no reason. Part 2 rejects this claim: anger must come about from a reason. First, I distinguish between a reason and a cause for an emotion by showing that a reason can be either justified or unjustified, whereas a cause either exists or not. A cause will always become a justified reason for the angry subject. The reason has the potential to be unjustified when it is presented to the angry subject’s peers. I build on this by introducing warranted anger and vindicated anger. Warranted anger is anger which has a justified reason. Vindicated anger is anger which, if presented to the angry subject’s peers, would be seen as warranted anger. In part 3 I posit and explain the idea of “Vapid Anger”. Vapid Anger is anger the subject of which knows they shouldn’t feel, but feel it anyway. It is controlled by an agent’s mood and overall disposition to anger, thereby determining the likelihood they will get angry at something “vapid”. I introduce this concept as it is a response to potential attacks against my argument; it shows that one can still have a reason for being angry but are aware that, if their reason was presented to a group of their peers, would be seen as unjustified.
BIO: I attained my BA with a major in philosophy in 2016. I graduated with my MA in philosophy in 2018. My MA dissertation was focused on moral responsibility, specifically on compatibilist thought. Both of these degrees were attained in University College Cork (UCC). After 2 years away from academia I returned to begin my PhD in September 2019. My thesis is focused solely on anger as an emotion, in an attempt to give a full account of all types of anger.
This recording is taken from the BSP Annual Conference 2020 Online: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’. Organised with the University of Exeter and sponsored by Egenis and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. BSP2020AC was held online this year due to global concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic. For the conference our speakers recorded videos, our keynotes presented live over Zoom, and we also recorded some interviews. Podcast episodes from BSP2020AC are soundtracks of those videos where we and the presenters feel the audio works as a standalone.
Our 2021 event is an online international conference between the National University of Ireland Galway / Ollscoil Na Héireann Gaillimh, The Irish Philosophical Society / Cumann Fealsúnachta Na Héireann, and the British Society for Phenomenology: 1 – 3 September. The call for papers is open now.
The British Society for Phenomenology is a not-for-profit organisation set up with the intention of promoting research and awareness in the field of Phenomenology and other cognate arms of philosophical thought. Currently, the society accomplishes these aims through its journal, events, and podcast. Why not find out more, join the society, and subscribe to our journal the JBSP?