November 2019 Philosophy Think & Drink (Missoula)

Our November Think & Drink was lovely! Here are the questions that were thrown into the ring for consideration:

— Is the use of religion a permissible way of building hope and faith as foundations for a community?

— Are there good and bad emotions?  How should we think about emotions morally?

— Do human rights exist?  What is natural law?  Is it legitimate?

— Why doe we punish?  Is punishment a legitimate response to wrongdoing?

The Question We Chose…

  • Are there good and bad emotions?  How should we think about emotions morally?

Some Things That Came Up in the Course of Our Discussion…

  • We often speak of some emotions (e.g., hatred, anger) as though they are always bad, and others (e.g., compassion, joy) as though they are always good. Might “bad’ emotions benefit us? Can “good” emotions ever be harmful?
  • Can we even speak of pure emotions morally? Or are morals dependent on context and outcomes?
  • Some emotions that we often think of as primary actually require a narrative context. For example, envy may be general dissatisfaction directed toward an object of envy; hatred may be redirected anger.
  • There may be a biological/evolutionary basis for moral judgments, which are deeply intertwined with our emotional responses to the world.
  • If two people commit identical acts with identical intentions, but one acts coolly and pragmatically, while the other is consumed with passion…is one act morally superior to the other?
  • How do your physiological states, and your ability or inability to control them, affect the rightness or wrongness of your actions. How might this inform our understanding of moral responsibility, desert, and punishment?
  • Can one be consumed by compassion in a way that is detrimental to your well-being in the same way that one can be consumed by anger or fear? 


Thank you to the Philosophy Learning & Teaching Organization (PLATO) and Montana Internet for supporting philosophy in the community and helping us bring activities like these to the Missoula community!  

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