It is an SNF-funded research project on the nature and value of effort.
We make efforts to lift heavy weights, to solve problems, to concentrate, to stop smoking, to climb mountains, to convince others, to stay calm, to understand obscure texts, to conceal one’s vices, to resist temptations, to gather information, to earn money, to overcome one’s shyness, to win games, etc. Not only do we make efforts, we also value efforts in various ways: we deem them unpleasant, praiseworthy, efficient, vain, irrational, tenacious, etc. Effort is a central concept not only of our ordinary psychology and ethics, but also of many sciences: efforts are recurrently invoked in psychology, economics, sociology, law, or philosophy. In spite of its ubiquity in ordinary and scientific thinking, virtually no attempt has been made so far to formulate a general theory of effort amenable to accommodate all varieties of efforts and to explain their values. The goal of this project is to remedy this deficiency by first, trying to identify what all the multifarious kinds of efforts have in common – the nature of effort; and second, by elucidating the main values which accrue to efforts in virtue of their nature. What are efforts, and what are they worth?
These two questions correspond to the two interdependent sub-projects of this project. sub-project A pertains to theoretical philosophy and bears on the nature of effort; sub-project B pertains to practical philosophy and bears on the value(s) of efforts. Assessing the values of effort trivially requires being clear about what efforts are; but the reverse is also true: the way we value efforts provides crucial clues about what we take efforts to be. Accordingly the two sub-projects are led in parallel and close collaboration.
The complete project and sub-projects are accessible here.