Emotions

When is criticizing other people’s emotions appropriate? Is it ever appropriate? Should you criticize someone who’s upset about a small thing? Should you criticize someone who’s afraid of non-poisonous spiders? Should you criticize a pedophile for being attracted to children? Someone who’s ungrateful? Someone with an anger problem?

Here are my heuristics (adapted from my comment on this post):

* Ought implies can, and people have limited (but non-zero) control of their emotions. It would be ok for me to say “you should try doing thing X to help you not have destructive emotion Y as much”, and criticize them for not doing *that*. X might be something like ‘try antidepressants’ and ‘try not obsessively stalking your ex’s Facebook’.
* I can also say “you are feeling emotion X because you have false belief Y”, and then criticize them for poor epistemic practices
* I can also say “It’s not morally criticizable for you to feel X, but I am going to criticize you for expressing X in way Y”. (X and Y might be having a crush + committing adultery, or feeling anger + going on a violent rampage.)
* It’s also my prerogative to say “it is not morally criticizable for you to feel emotion X but also it is unpleasant so I’m not going to hang out with you anymore”

Besides the above cases, I think the correct response to someone’s emotions is pretty much always acceptance and empathy.

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