How We Hope
A Moral Psychology
Princeton University Press 2013
From political campaigns to sports stadiums and hospital rooms, the concept of hope is pervasive. And the story we tend to tell ourselves about hope is that it is intrinsically a good thing — in many ways we still tend to think of hope as a kind of virtue. Hence we talk about hopes being dashed or crushed; and we speak as if losing hope is an unmitigated bad. We also talk about false hope, which is a kind of misfortune rather than a blemish on hope’s moral ledger. Hope is deeply bound up with our moral lives. But, perhaps surprisingly, there has been little sustained philosophical attention paid to hope as a moral phenomenon.
In How We Hope: A Moral Psychology (Princeton University Press, 2013), Adrienne Martin presents a distinctive and compelling philosophical analysis of hope. Hoping, she argues, involves the taking of one’s attraction for an outcome that one judges unlikely to eventuate to supply reasons for acting in various ways. Her “incorporation” view of hope enables Martin to establish fascinating philosophical connections between hope, imagination, practical reason, and even “secular” faith. This is a little book that advances a lot of big ideas.