Motivating propositional gratitude

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The discussion of propositional gratitude stands in need of a secure theoretical underpinning. Its place in the gratitude literature, alongside the more familiar targeted gratitude that we direct towards benefactors, now seems assured, but its adoption has been uncritical in many cases. In this paper, I argue that existing accounts of gratitude fail to give us good reason to incorporate propositional gratitude into our theories. I discuss Sean McAleer’s paper ‘Propositional Gratitude’ (Am Philos Q 49:55–66, 2012) in some detail, and argue that the connection he draws between propositional gratitude and humility is not as close as he supposes, and cannot do all the work required of it. Then I trace the connections between propositional gratitude, targeted gratitude, and gladness, and develop and defend a definition of gratitude that integrates the propositional and the targeted components.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Early online date23 Jan 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jan 2019


  • Propositional gratitude, Targeted gratitude, Gladness, Emotion