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Products for grant AQ-50581-12

NEH Enduring Questions Course on "Is Virtue Its Own Reward?"
Jonathan Jacobs, CUNY Research Foundation, John Jay College

Grant details:

“Character, Punishment, and the Liberal Order,” (Book Section)
Title: “Character, Punishment, and the Liberal Order,”
Author: Jonathan Jacobs
Editor: Jonathan Webber, Alberto Masals
Abstract: The chapter explores the impact of long-term incarceration on an intersection of character, rational agency, and the ability to participate successfully in the civil society of a liberal polity. The chief claims are that (i) the concept character does, indeed, have explanatory and ethical significance, and (ii) prevailing conditions of long-term incarceration in the U.S. and U.K. often harm and worsen prisoners through their impact on dispositions constitutive of character. While a liberal polity should not require individuals to acquire virtues, neither should it cause them to have vices (or worsen their vices) in known and regular ways. The ways that prison conditions have that result are considered, along with the respects in which this disables ex-prisoners for reentering society. The relations between states of character and capacities for prudential self-determination are an important focus of the analysis.
Year: 2016
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Book Title: From Personality to Virtue: Essays on the Philosophy of Character
ISBN: 978-0198746812

Virtue, Vice, and Character-Based Necesiity (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Virtue, Vice, and Character-Based Necesiity
Author: Jonathan Jacobs
Abstract: Virtue and vice involve modes of character-based necessity and impossibility in ways that do not diminish responsibility or voluntariness. To a large extent, aspiring to virtue involves striving to acquire cognitive and motivational dispositions by which certain ways of acting become practically necessary. Vices can practically disable an agent for acting well on account of motivational and cognitive dispositions shaping necessities and impossibilities (even though the vicious agent does not strive to be disabled for right action). The explication of character-based necessity shows how practical necessity and impossibility can become durable, significant features of character as a result of voluntary activity even if the acquisition of those features was not intended. This is especially important because of the ways that virtues are related to each other, and because of how vices are related to each other. The discussion considers whether and why virtues are integrated and whether there is corresponding mutual reinforcement among vices.
Date: 8/13/15
Conference Name: Workshop on Practical Necessity

“Adam Smith on Resentment and Gratitude: The Moral Psychology of Justice and Civility” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “Adam Smith on Resentment and Gratitude: The Moral Psychology of Justice and Civility”
Author: Jonathan Jacobs
Abstract: Smith argues that resentment has a crucial role in sustaining the determination to see that justice is done. He says, “It is the safeguard of justice and the security of innocence.” No doubt, there are ways in which resentment can become toxic and morally problematic. Indeed, many thinkers urge the minimization of resentment because of how corrupting it can easily become or how corrupting it is alleged to be in its own right. Smith’s view of resentment suggests an epistemic role and a motivational role for it. Resentment can be an appropriate expression of denunciation of the wrong done, reflecting a correct perception of it, and it can sustain the commitment to see that justice is served. Is Smith correct that the moral psychology of resentment has an important role in regard to criminal justice? How are we to understand resentment in the larger context of Smith's views about sympathy, imagination, and sociability? Is there tension between resentment’s role vis a vis criminal justice and a liberal polity’s concern to sustain an open, tolerant, pluralistic civil society?
Date: 07/22/2015
Conference Name: Joint Meeting of Adam Smith Society and Rousseau Association