Title

On Pessimism: A Study in Normative Psychology

Date of Award

6-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Embargo Date

8-21-2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Philosophy

Advisor(s)

Michael Stocker

Keywords

Pessimism

Subject Categories

Philosophy

Abstract

I aim to revive pessimism as a topic of philosophical discussion. Toward that end, I defend a theory of pessimism designed to locate pessimism within the existing philosophical literature, and to account for the epistemic and prudential conditions under which pessimism is warranted. I argue for three main theses: (1) pessimism is a stance in which one takes oneself to live in a `not good-enough' world; (2) pessimism is not necessarily the product of an emotional problem, a character defect, or unjustifiable metaphysical assumptions; and (3) pessimism can be prudentially appropriate, and--perhaps most controversially--is epistemically warranted. In an appendix, I consider the philosophical challenges posed by radical pessimism, and what I call the secular problem of evil.

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