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Grant number like: FB-56269-12

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Bennett W. Helm
Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, PA 17603-2827)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2012 – 6/30/2013

Defining Moral Communities: Respect, Dignity, and the Reactive Attitudes

I plan to examine the idea that being a person requires belonging to a community of fellow persons bound together through rational interconnections among the reactive attitudes--a class of emotions including resentment, gratitude, indignation, approbation, guilt, and trust. I shall argue that such emotions are fundamental to understanding the nature of respect and the dignity of persons. Because these emotions are interpersonally structured, they not only constitute our joint respect for each other but also define us as forming a community of respect to which each member is held accountable. Although there can be multiple, overlapping communities of respect, when such a community is the community of all persons, the resulting respect and dignity are distinctively moral in character and lie at the root of our being bound by and responsible to distinctively moral norms. The result will be a draft book manuscript: Defining Moral Communities: Respect, Dignity, and the Reactive Attitudes.