Brian Robinson is assistant professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Introduction: The Moral Psychology of Amusement
PART I: Amusement and Moral Judgments
1LOL: What We Can Learn from Forced Laughter
2An Interactional Sociolinguist Engages The Moral Psychology of Amusement
Catherine Evans Davies
3It’s All Fun and Games until Someone Gets Hurt: Amusement’s Negative Influence on Moral Judgment
PART II: Moral Judgments of Amusement
4Beyond A Joke: A Defence of Comic Moralism
5That’s Not Funny
6The Ethics of Humour
PART III: Social Moral Judgments of Amusement
7You Shouldn’t Have Laughed! The Ethics of Derogatory Amusement
Andrew Morgan and Ralph DiFranco
8Amused by the Outrageous: The Morally Tempering Effect of News Satire
Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen and David Sackris
9Eutrapelia and the Normativity of Social Humor
Andrew Jordan and Stephanie Patridge
PART IV: Ancient Perspectives on The Moral Judgments of Amusement
10Amusement, Happiness, and the Good Life in Plato’s Dialogues
11Zhuangzi’s Moral Psychology and Humor: The Playful Liberation of Self, Others, and Society
12Starting from the Muses: Engaging Moral Imagination through Memory’s Many Gifts
The academic study of humor is marvelously interdisciplinary. It draws on insights from philosophy, psychology, linguistics, sociology, classics, and the actual performance of humor in everyday life to create a rich body of work on a complex part of the human experience. In this lively, much-needed volume, Robinson brings together a wide-ranging selection of writing on amusement (the characteristic emotion of humor) and its various moral implications. Written by contributors across the disciplinary spectrum, the essays cover subjects from the basic question of what amusement is and how its relationship with moral judgment works to deeper matters, such as amusement’s actual moral effects. The book also includes some helpful groundwork in the ancient sources (Plato, Zhuangzi) on which more contemporary accounts may distantly depend. Although the underlying themes of the book are philosophical in nature, each essay looks at its subject in terms of social, linguistic, and psychological concerns, making the volume a largely applied rather than purely theoretical endeavor. The writing is engaging and accessible, and the contributors do a very good job of connecting readers to current debates on the subject without resorting to confusing cross-referencing. Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.
The Moral Psychology of Amusement is what would happen if a philosopher, a psychologist, a sociolinguist, and a classicist walked into a bar. As interdisciplinary as it is rigorous, this is a tour de force that is sure to become a must-have in the field.