This chapter aims to characterize cynicism and optimism, and argues that cynicism (properly understood) is a vice, and optimism (properly understood) is a virtue. It distinguishes cynicism from what we might call ‘being realistic’, which is often beneficial. The argument for considering optimism to be a virtue requires locating the appropriate mean between cynicism and a kind of foolish optimism, or being a Pangloss, which is often harmful. It is shown that cynicism hinders both the cognitive and the affective components of our capacity for endorsement by influencing our views about what is worthwhile and by dampening our positive attitudes toward others.
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