Expressions of gratitude abound. Hardly a book is published that does not include in its preface or acknowledgments some variation on, “I am grateful to…for…” Indeed, most achievements come to be only through the help of others. We value the benevolence of others, and when we—or our loved ones—are the recipients of benevolence, our emotional response is often one of gratitude.
But, are we bound to the requirement of ‘repaying’ our benefactors in some way? If we are, and there are—as ordinary language suggests—debts of gratitude, what kind of debts are these? Does the appropriateness of my gratitude require that my benefactor in fact intended to benefit me (in just the way she did)? Is there a difference between feeling grateful and being grateful? Is a precondition of my being grateful to another that I respect her? Do we owe a special sort of gratitude to those who have shaped us into the persons we are? What are the psychological and normative relations between gratitude the emotion, and gratitude the virtue?
These are among the questions carefully addressed in The Moral Psychology of Gratitude. This volume provides readers with the state-of-the-art in research on gratitude. It does so in the form of sixteen never-before published articles on the emotion by leading voices in philosophy and the sciences of the mind.
 The Emotion-Virtue-Debt Triad of Gratitude: An Introduction to The Moral Psychology of Gratitude, Daniel Telech & Robert Roberts / Part 1: REASONS AND ACTION /  Gratitude: Generic vs. Deep, Hichem Naar /  Acting from Gratitude, Terrance McConnell / Part 2: GRATITUDE, RIGHTS, AND DUTIES /  Obligations of Gratitude: Directedness Without Rights, Adrienne M. Martin /  Debts of Gratitude, Agnes Callard /  Gratitude, Rights and Benefit, Coleen Macnamara /  Do Children Owe Their Parents Gratitude?, Cameron Fenton / Part 3: GRATITUDE AS A REACTIVE ATTITUDE /  Gratitude as a Second-Personal Attitude (of the Heart), Stephen Darwall /  Gratitude and Resentment: Some Asymmetries, D. Justin Coates /  Gratitude and Norms: On the Social Function of Gratitude, Bennett W. Helm / Part 4: AUTHENTIC SELVES AND BRAINS /  Neural Perspective on Gratitude, Christina Karns /  Gratitude, Authenticity, and Self-Authorship, Jack J. Bauer & Colin Shanahan / Part 5: GRATITUDE & VIRTUE /  Gratitude as a Virtue, Sophie Grace Chappell /  Gratitude, Truth and Lies, David Carr /  Cross-Pollination in the Gardens of Virtue, Liz Gulliford /  The Virtue of Gratitude and its Associated Vices, Tony Manela /  Gratitude, Friendship, and Mutuality: Reflections on Three Characters in Bleak House, Robert Roberts
In fifteen thoughtful essays and an introduction, The Moral Psychology of Gratitude expands our thinking about gratitude in new directions. Contributors analyze gratitude from a number of philosophical angles, in essays about reasons and action, rights and duties, gratitude as a reactive attitude, and gratitude and virtue. Some philosophical discussions, such as those of Carr and Roberts, are informed by literature. An interdisciplinary turn is also taken in the two contributions to the section on ‘Authentic Selves and Brains.’ In addition to philosophers, a neuroscientist and two psychologists offer their perspectives on gratitude. The result is a volume offering a unique, state-of-the-art examination of gratitude that is not to be missed.
This collection is a thoroughly satisfying example of how our everyday experiences and relationships provide us with an invitation to take on big philosophical questions. The editors have brought together an excellent group of scholars. Each begins with familiar cases of gratitude but ends up somewhere fascinatingly different.
Written with admirable clarity and liveliness, the contributions to this book explore gratitude in all of its dimensions as a positive emotion, a virtue, a reactive attitude, and as the grounding of some kind of debt. Ranging from philosophy, to psychology and to neuroscience this collection is an essential reference point for future research on this topic. We owe Daniel Telech and Robert Roberts a debt of gratitude for skilfully assembling such an exciting volume.
Robert Roberts is Distinguished Professor of Ethics Emeritus at Baylor University.
Daniel Telech is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Polonsky Academy for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.