The Focus Theory of Hope

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Most elpistologists now agree that hope for a specific outcome involves more than just desire plus the presupposition that the outcome is possible. This paper argues that the additional element of hope is a disposition to focus on the desired outcome in a certain way. I first survey the debate about the nature of hope in the recent literature, offer objections to some important competing accounts, and describe and defend the view that hope involves a kind of focus or attention. I then suggest that this account makes sense of the intuitive thought that there are moral and pragmatic norms on hope that go beyond the norms on desires and modal presuppositions. I conclude by considering some key questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-63
Number of pages20
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


  • attention
  • despair
  • focus
  • hope
  • possibility
  • salience


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