Practical reasoning and emotion

In Alfred R. Mele & Piers Rawling (eds.), The Oxford handbook of rationality. New York: Oxford University Press (2004)
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The category of emotions covers a disputed territory, but clear examples include fear, anger, joy, pride, sadness, disgust, shame, contempt and the like. Such states are commonly thought of as antithetical to reason, disorienting and distorting practical thought. However, there is also a sense in which emotions are factors in practical reasoning, understood broadly as reasoning that issues in action. At the very least emotions can function as "enabling" causes of rational decision-making (despite the many cases in which they are disabling) insofar as they direct attention toward certain objects of thought and away from others. They serve to heighten memory and to limit the set of salient practical options to a manageable set, suitable for "quick-and-dirty" decision-making



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Patricia S. Greenspan
University of Maryland, College Park

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