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The Reflective LifeLiving Wisely With Our Limits$
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Valerie Tiberius

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199202867

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199202867.001.0001

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(p.137) 6 Optimism
The Reflective Life

Valerie Tiberius (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   cynicism, realistic optimism, virtue, Pangloss

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