7th of December – Wojciech Kaftański – The Moral Psychology of Social Comparison: Nature and Normativity: Aims, Ambitions, and Methodology
We have the pleasure to invite you to another research seminar. Wojciech Kaftański is going to give a talk: "The Moral Psychology of Social Comparison: Nature and Normativity: Aims, Ambitions, and Methodology”. The seminar will take place on 7th of December at 5:30 p.m. in the room 25 on Grodzka Street and via MS Teams.
In this seminar I will present the aims, ambitions of my research project “The Moral Psychology of Social Comparison: Nature and Normativity” (MPSC) and the methodology used in the research project. MPSC seeks to understand philosophically what social comparison is, why we engage in it, and whether social comparison is good or bad for us, or perhaps neutral.
The preliminary thesis of this project is that social comparison is, in fact, harmful for us, harmful to our wellbeing. This first systematic philosophical treatment of social comparison is motivated by a growing body of literature in psychological and sociological studies that largely demonstrates that social comparison contributes to decreased wellbeing and physical health, but it also discourages us from helping others and excelling at work. MPSC investigates the moral psychology at work in social comparison. This means that my project seeks to understand what happens when we compare ourselves with others and what motivates us to engage in social comparison. I address these concerns in the first of the two parts of MPSC tapping to philosophically underexplored resources in three modern thinkers, namely David Hume, Adam Smith, and Søren Kierkegaard. While there is virtually no work dedicated to social comparison in contemporary philosophy, these classical modern thinkers offer important theoretical insights about the kinds of sentiments that make us more susceptible to social comparison, but also the types of emotions that social comparison produces in us, such as jealously, anger, but also a decreased sense of vitality and agency.
In the second part of this project, I focus on determining whether and in what sense social comparison is good or bad for us. To achieve that goal, I engage the philosophical concepts of virtues and vices derived from the ethical theory of virtues to establish if social comparison is a vice. Virtue represents a human habitual disposition to act in accordance with principles fundamental to a good life. Its opposite, vice, is a negative tendency that produces harmful behaviors, such as cowardice, anger, greed, and laziness. Rather than judging social comparison simply based on what it does to us, or what sort of obligations it entails, MPSC focuses on evaluating the types of attitudes and characterological tendencies we express and habituate when we compare ourselves others.
I look forward to your questions and suggestions.