Emotion and action

Philosophical Psychology 15 (1):19 – 36 (2002)
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The role of emotion in human action has long been neglected in the philosophy of action. Some prevalent misconceptions of the nature of emotion are responsible for this neglect: emotions are irrational; emotions are passive; and emotions have only an insignificant impact on actions. In this paper we argue that these assumptions about the nature of emotion are problematic and that the neglect of emotion's place in theories of action is untenable. More positively, we argue on the basis of recent research in cognitive neuroscience that emotions may significantly affect action generation as well as action execution and control. Moreover, emotions also play a crucial role in people's explanation of action. We conclude that the concept of emotion deserves a more distinctive and central place in philosophical theories of action.



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Author Profiles

Paul Thagard
University of Waterloo