Marie Oldfield
University of Glasgow
Emotions are an everyday occurrence. Much work has been done into what the point of emotion is and what part emotions might play in our lives. The great impact emotions have on our lives means it’s not surprising that great philosophers have studied them over the centuries. Anger is an emotion that we encounter every day and most of us are very familiar with. Anger is a response to some ‘wrongfully’ inflicted damage to someone or something that one cares about. When this happens, it is natural for us to feel the need for ‘payback. It is generally agreed by most philosophers that this wish for retribution is a key part of feeling anger. If there is no wish for retribution in your mind when you think you experience anger then perhaps you are experiencing grief or some other emotion. Nussbaum states that anger is a central threat to decent human interactions and posits that a necessary component of anger is the wish for retribution. She states that a wish for retribution can occur independently of anger but anger cannot occur independently of a wish for retribution. In this case – we would be feeling different emotion. This paper has two sections; In section One I will discuss in detail Nussbaum’s view, the two concepts of anger she presents: ‘Payback Anger’ and ‘Status Anger’. The former being anger with a retributive element and the latter being where one would react to an insult or wrong with anger in order to ‘put someone back in their place’ so to speak. This is followed by a brief word on why Nussbaum thinks anger might be beneficial in some circumstances. Section Two discusses cases of anger without the retributive element and how Nussbaum might respond to these cases. We will see how we can be angry at something within our circle of concern but simply want an end to the issue such as a war. This may not involve retribution but still generates anger. I discuss how we can be angry at a flatmate or family member but not want retribution. “Self-Retributive anger” comes up as another case where there does not seem to be retribution involved in anger towards the self. I also discuss here what retribution might consist of and how Nussbaum’s view is unclear on this. The conclusion will summarise the objections to Nussbaum’s view and the objections to that view culminating in a request for further empirical research to determine if we can establish the nature of the feeling of anger in humans.
Keywords Anger  Nussbaum
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