Having a sense of humor as a virtue

Journal of Value Inquiry:1-22 (forthcoming)
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Could having a sense of humor be a virtue? In this paper, we argue for an affirmative answer to this question. Like other virtues, a sense of humor enhances and inhibits the expression of various emotions, especially amusement, contempt, trust, and hope. Someone possesses a virtuous sense of humor to the extent that they are well-disposed to appropriately enhance or inhibit these emotions in themselves and others through both embodied reactions (e.g., smiling, laughter, eyerolls) and language (e.g., telling jokes, understanding others’ jokes, etc.). Regarding the aims or purposes of a sense of humor, we argue that a sense of humor aids both its bearer and other people who are socially connected to the bearer with coping, connection, capability, and criticism. If this is on the right track, then the value of a sense of humor is pluralistic: a sense of humor doesn’t do just one thing, but several things simultaneously. We then explore four contexts in which a sense of humor is especially needed, namely hardship, social relationships, social and political cooperation, and existential reflection.

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Author Profiles

Mark Alfano
Macquarie University
Mandi Astola
Delft University of Technology

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References found in this work

The Moralistic Fallacy: On the ”Appropriateness' of Emotions.Daniel Jacobson - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (1):65-90.
The Moralistic Fallacy: On the 'Appropriateness' of Emotions.Justin D'Arms & Daniel Jacobson - 2000 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 61 (1):65-90.
Turning up the lights on gaslighting.Kate Abramson - 2014 - Philosophical Perspectives 28 (1):1-30.
Trustworthiness.Karen Jones - 2012 - Ethics 123 (1):61-85.
In Praise of Immoral Art.Daniel Jacobson - 1997 - Philosophical Topics 25 (1):155-199.

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