Reason to be Cheerful

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This paper identifies a tension between the commitment to forming rationally justified emotions and the happy life. To illustrate this tension I begin with a critical evaluation of the positive psychology technique known as ‘gratitude training’. I argue that gratitude training is at odds with the kind of critical monitoring that several philosophers have claimed is regulative of emotional rationality. More generally, critical monitoring undermines exuberance, an attitude that plays a central role in contemporary models of the happy life. Thus, prominent notions of what it takes to maintain emotion rationality and what it takes to maintain happiness are in tension. To resolve this tension, I argue that some people have good reason to depreciate critical monitoring—even while maintaining the requirement of emotion rationality that we be sensitive to facts about how our concerns are faring.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalReview of Philosophy and Psychology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jun 2020


  • Absorption
  • Emotion
  • Exuberance
  • Happiness
  • Rationality
  • Well-being

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