free and open to the public
Gratitude as a Second-Personal Attitude (of the Heart)
P. F. Strawson lists gratitude as one of the distinctively second-personal mental states he calls “reactive attitudes.” But unlike more familiar juridical examples, like resentment, blame, and guilt, gratitude is not an attitude through which we hold people accountable. I argue that gratitude is a second-personal attitude of the heart, with other examples being love, trust, and (interpersonal) hope. Both juridical attitudes and second-personal attitudes of the heart involve distinctive ways of valuing people. Juridical attitudes implicitly acknowledge an equal dignity, or second-personal authority, that is shared by all persons alike. Second-personal attitudes of the heart, like gratitude, on the other hand, value another personally; they indicate their object’s personal significance for us and thereby help mediate personal relationship with them. Through juridical reactive attitudes, we relate to others and ourselves as one person among others. Through gratitude and other heartfelt attitudes, we open ourselves to particular individuals with whom we seek personal heartfelt connection.