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Vol. 5 No. 5 (2022): General Issue 2022

Ethics for the Depressed: Arguing with "S"

  • Devin Fitzpatrick
February 9, 2023


I reflect on an argument with a friend, “S,” who also struggles with depression. In examining my formalization of S’s argument, I claim, we may discern the structure of depressive thought. In observing what is missing from this structure, we may identify what depression tends to hide from depressed persons and what, more broadly, it tends to compel from them. I argue for a redescription of depressive thinking in terms of two compulsions: 1) to perceive an absolute and vague threat that causes disruption to action and 2) to take this disruption as also being a reason for inaction. To do ethics for the depressed, I conclude, is to ask what philosophical argument can do for those who seek justification for action but struggle with these specific limits on their responsiveness to reasons.