On Being Supportive

When:8 Apr 2014, 12:30pm - 2pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:George Tsai, University of Hawaii and ANU
George Tsai

Philosophy Seminar

Abstract: In recent years, philosophers have offered insightful accounts of important aspects of our interpersonal lives, such as love, care, friendship, and loyalty. However, surprisingly little attention has been given to the related but distinct phenomenon of being supportive. What is it to be supportive of a friend or loved one? I offer an account of the nature and value of being supportive. First, I argue that being supportive involves a willingness to bear costs to hold up the supported associate in her pursuit of self-expressive activities (“providing a shoulder to lean on when the going gets tough”). Second, I argue that being supportive is a modally demanding value: it requires not merely that one actually be willing to bear costs to hold up the associate, but also that one would continue to do so across a range of non-actual situations. Finally, I argue that the special goods that being supportive makes available include not just the care or assistance provided to the supported associate by the supporting associate. They also include a sphere of autonomous agency for the supported associate and a sense of solidarity between the supported and supporting associate. These “extra goods” are importantly connected to the modally demanding character of being supportive.

Bio: George Tsai is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii and Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Philosophy at the ANU. He works mainly in ethics, political philosophy, and moral psychology. He also has an interest in Chinese philosophy, and has been examining the early Confucian conceptions of agency and emotion. His publications include “An Error Theory for Liberal Universalism” (The Journal of Political Philosophy) and “Lamentable Necessities” (The Review of Metaphysics).


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