Philosophy, Department of


Date of this Version



2015 by The University of Chicago.


According to a simplistic fitting attitude analysis of admirable, what it is for someone to be admirable just is for admiration to be an appropriate attitude to have toward that person. But this analysis faces the “wrong kind of reasons” or “conflation” problem: it may sometimes be appropriate to admire someone without that person being admirable. For instance, if my admiring an evil dictator would somehow save 100 lives, it would be appropriate for me to admire him. But that doesn’t make him admirable.

The fact that it would somehow save 100 lives is the “wrong kind of reason” for admiring someone. In contrast, Jimmy Carter’s humanitarian work is the right kind of reason for admiring Carter; it points toward his being admirable. The wrong kind of reasons problem is to provide an account of the distinction between the “wrong” and “right” kind of reasons for attitudes in a way that allows for formulations of fitting attitude analyses that aren’t vulnerable to such counterexamples. (And one can’t simply say what I said above—that the reasons of the right kind are those which point to someone’s being admirable—since the whole point of a fitting attitude analysis of admirable is to explain that concept in other terms. Saying that the reasons of the right kind are those which point to someone’s being admirable would be circular. In short, we want to say that a person would be admirable only if there are reasons of the right kind to admire him. And the challenge is to say, without circularity, what makes a reason be of the right kind.

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