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How We Hope

by Adrienne Martin

What exactly is hope and how does it influence our decisions? In How We Hope, Adrienne Martin presents a novel account of hope, the motivational resources it presupposes, and its function in our practical lives. She contends that hoping for an outcome means treating certain feelings, plans, and imaginings as justified, and that hope thereby involves sophisticated reflective and conceptual capacities. Martin develops this original perspective on hope--what she calls the "incorporation analysis"--in contrast to the two dominant philosophical conceptions of hope: the orthodox definition, where hoping for an outcome is simply desiring it while thinking it possible, and agent-centered views, where hoping for an outcome is setting oneself to pursue it. In exploring how hope influences our decisions, she establishes that it is not always a positive motivational force and can render us complacent. She also examines the relationship between hope and faith, both religious and secular, and identifies a previously unnoted form of hope: normative or interpersonal hope. When we place normative hope in people, we relate to them as responsible agents and aspire for them to overcome challenges arising from situation or character. Demonstrating that hope merits rigorous philosophical investigation, both in its own right and in virtue of what it reveals about the nature of human emotion and motivation, How We Hope offers an original, sustained look at a largely neglected topic in philosophy.

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