Emotions are crucial to human agency. But what are emotions? And how do they relate to agency? The aim of this book is to spell out an account of emotions, which is grounded on analogies between emotions and sensory experiences, and to explore the implications of this account for our understanding of human agency. The central claim is that emotions consist in perceptual experiences of values, such as the fearsome, the disgusting or the admirable. A virtue of this account is (...) that it affords a better grasp of a variety of interconnected phenomena: the relationship between emotions and motivation, the nature of evaluative judgements, the relationship between responsibility and attitudes such as anger, and, finally, the relation between emotions and reasons. (shrink)
Emotions often misfire. We sometimes fear innocuous things, such as spiders or mice, and we do so even if we firmly believe that they are innocuous. This is true of all of us, and not only of phobics, who can be considered to suffer from extreme manifestations of a common tendency. We also feel too little or even sometimes no fear at all with respect to very fearsome things, and we do so even if we believe that they are fearsome. (...) Indeed, instead of shunning fearsome things, we might be attracted to them. Emotions that seem more thought-involving, such as shame, guilt or jealousy, can also misfire. You can be ashamed of your big ears even though we can agree that there is nothing shameful in having big ears, and even though you judge that having big ears does not warrant shame. And of course, it is also possible to experience too little or even no shame at all with respect to something that is really shameful. Many of these cases involve a conflict between one’s emotion and one’s evaluative judgement. Emotions that are thus conflicting with judgement can be called ‘recalcitrant emotions’. The question I am interested in is whether or not recalcitrant emotions amount to emotional illusions, that is, whether or not these cases are sufficiently similar to perceptual illusions to justify the claim that they fall under the same general heading. The answer to this depends on what emotions are. For instance, the view that emotions are evaluative judgments makes it difficult to make room for the claim that emotional errors are perceptual illusions. Fearing an innocuous spider would simply amount to making the error of judging that the spider is fearsome while it is in fact innocuous. This might involve an illusion of some sort, but it certainly does not amount to anything like a perceptual illusion. In this chapter, I argue that recalcitrant emotions are a kind of perceptual illusion.. (shrink)
This paper argues that Deonna and Teroni's attitudinal theory of emotions faces two serious problems. The first is that their master argument fails to establish the central tenet of the theory, namely, that the formal objects of emotions do not feature in the content of emotions. The second is that the attitudinal theory itself is vulnerable to a dilemma. By pointing out these problems, our paper provides indirect support to the main competitor of the attitudinal theory, namely, the perceptual theory (...) of emotions. (shrink)
In reply to Geach's objection against expressivism, some have claimed that there is a plurality of truth predicates. I raise a difficulty for this claim: valid inferences can involve sentences assessable by any truth predicate, corresponding to 'lightweight' truth as well as to 'heavyweight' truth. To account for this, some unique truth predicate must apply to all sentences that can appear in inferences. Mixed inferences remind us of a central platitude about truth: truth is what is preserved in valid inferences. (...) The question is why we should postulate truth predicates that do not satisfy this platitude. (shrink)
Ethical thought is articulated around normative concepts. Standard examples of normative concepts are good, reason, right, ought, and obligatory. Theorists often treat the normative as an undifferentiated domain. Even so, it is common to distinguish between two kinds of normative concepts: evaluative or axiological concepts, such as good, and deontic concepts, such as ought. This encyclopedia entry discusses the many differences between the two kinds of concepts.
Mixed inferences are a problem for those who want to combine truth-assessability and antirealism with respect to allegedly nondescriptive sentences: the classical account of validity has apparently to be given up. J.C. Beall's response is that validity can be defined as the conservation of designated valued (Beall 2000). I argue that since it presupposes a truth predicate that can be applied to all sentences, this suggestion is not helpful. I also consider problems arising from mixed conjunctions and discuss the deeper (...) worry that the distinction between truth which does and truth which does not entail realism is inferentially irrelevant. (shrink)
Among the many practical failures that threaten us, weakness of will or akrasia is often considered to be a paradigm of irrationality. The eleven new essays in this collection, written by an excellent international team of philosophers, some well-established, some younger scholars, give a rich overview of the current debate over weakness of will and practical irrationality more generally. Issues covered include classical questions such as the distinction between weakness and compulsion, the connection between evaluative judgement and motivation, the role (...) of emotions in akrasia, rational agency, and the existence of the will. The also include new topics, such as group akrasia, strength of will, the nature of correct choice, the structure of decision theory, the temporality of prudential reasons, and emotional rationality. Because these questions cut across philosophy of mind and ethics, the collection will be essential reading for scholars, postgraduates, and upper-level undergraduates in both these fields. (shrink)
After discussing de Sousa's view of emotion in akrasia, I suggest that emotions be viewed as nonconceptual perceptions of value (see Tappolet 2000). It follows that they can render intelligible actions which are contrary to one's better judgment. An emotion can make one's action intelligible even when that action is opposed by one's all-things-considered judgment. Moreover, an akratic action prompted by an emotion may be more rational than following one's better judgement, for it may be the judgement and not the (...) perception which is in error. By contrast, "cool" akrasia is genuinely puzzling; it is not clear whether it exists. (shrink)
Consider a typical fear episode. You are strolling down a lonely mountain lane when suddenly a huge wolf leaps towards you. A number of different interconnected elements are involved in the fear you experience. First, there is the visual and auditory perception of the wild animal and its movements. In addition, it is likely that given what you see, you may implicitly and inarticulately appraise the situation as acutely threatening. Then, there are a number of physiological changes, involving a variety (...) of systems controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Your heart races, your breathing becomes strained and your start trembling. These changes are accompanied by an expression of fear on your face: your mouth opens and your eyes widen while you stare at the wolf. There is also a kind of experience that you undergo. You are likely to feel a sort of pang, something that might consist in the perception of the physiological changes you are going through. Moreover, a number of thoughts are likely to cross your mind. You might think that the wild beast is about to tear you into pieces and that you’ll never escape from this. In addition to this, your attention focuses on the wolf and its movement, as well as, possibly, ways of escaping or defending yourself. Last, but not least, your fear is likely to come with a motivation, such as an urge to run away or to strike back. Whatever the details of the story, it is clear that a typical emotion episode involves a number of different components. Roughly, these components are a) a sensory perception or more generally an informational component, b) a kind of appraisal, d) physiological changes, c) conscious feelings, d) cognitive and attentional processes, and e) an actiontendency or more generally a motivational component. One central question in the theory of emotion is which, if any, of these components, constitute the emotion.. (shrink)
Neo-sentmentalism is the view that to judge that something has an evaluative property is to judge that some affective or emotional response is appropriate with respect to it. The difficulty in assessing neo-sentimentalism is that it allows for radically different versions. My aim is to spell out what I take to be its most plausible version. I distinguish between a normative version, which takes the concepts of appropriateness to be normative, and a descriptive version, which claims that appropriateness in emotions (...) is a matter of correspondence to evaluative facts. I argue that the latter version can satisfy the normativity requirement that follows from Moore's Open Question Argument, that it is superior to the former with respect to the explanatory role of values, and with respect to the Wrong Kind of Reason Objection. Finally, I argue that the circularity that is involved is not vicious: understood epistemically, neo-sentimentalism remains instructive. (shrink)
It is generally accepted that there are two kinds of normative concepts : evaluative concepts, such as good, and deontic concepts, such as ought. The question that is raised by this distinction is how it is possible to claim that evaluative concepts are normative. Given that deontic concepts appear to be at the heart of normativity, the bigger the gap between evaluative and deontic concepts, the less it appears plausible to say that evaluative concepts are normative. After having presented the (...) main differences between evaluative and deontic concepts, and shown that there is more than a superficial difference between the two kinds, the paper turns to the question of the normativity of evaluative concepts. It will become clear that, even if these concepts have different functions, there are a great many ties between evaluative concepts, on the one hand, and the concepts of ought and of reason, on the other. (shrink)
What is the relation between the concept good and more specific or ‘thick’ concepts such as admirable or courageous? I argue that good or more precisely good pro tanto is a general concept, but that the relation between good pro tanto and the more specific concepts is not that of a genus to its species. The relation of an important class of specific evaluative concepts, which I call ‘affective concepts’, to good pro tanto is better understood as one between a (...) determinable and its determinates, whereas concepts such as courageous can be analysed in terms of affective concepts and purely descriptive concepts. (shrink)
Evaluative concepts and emotions appear closely connected. According to a prominent account, this relation can be expressed by propositions of the form ‘something is admirable if and only if feeling admiration is appropriate in response to it’. The first section discusses various interpretations of such ‘Value-Emotion Equivalences’, for example the Fitting Attitude Analysis, and it offers a plausible way to read them. The main virtue of the proposed way to read them is that it is well-supported by a promising account (...) of emotions, namely the Perceptual Theory of Emotions, which emphasises the analogies between emotions and sensory perceptual experiences. The second section considers a worry about whether concepts such as admirable are really evaluative. It is maintained that even though the arguments used to show that thick terms and concepts are not inherently evaluative can be transposed to affective concepts, these arguments can be resisted. So there is no need to abandon the intuitive claim that affective concepts are inherently evaluative. (shrink)
This paper replies to an argument due to Greenspan (1980) and to Morton (2002) against the view that emotions are perceptions of values. The argument holds that this view cannot make room for ambivalent emotions both of which are appropriate, such as when it is appropriate to feel fear and attraction towards something. This would make for a contradiction, for appropriate emotions are supposed to present things as they are. The problem, I argue, is that this line of thoughts forgets (...) that things can have positive and negative aspects: something can both be dangerous and attractive, for instance. (shrink)
Philosophers have not been very preoccupied by the link between emotions and attention. The few that did (de Sousa, 1987) never really specified the relation between the two phenomena. Using empirical data from the study of the emotion of fear, we provide a description (and an explanation) of the links between emotion and attention. We also discuss the nature (empirical or conceptual) of these links.
In this paper, we consider the question of whether there exists an essential relation between emotions and wellbeing. We distinguish three ways in which emotions and wellbeing might be essentially related: constitutive, causal, and epistemic. We argue that, while there is some room for holding that emotions are constitutive ingredients of an individual’s wellbeing, all the attempts to characterise the causal and epistemic relations in an essentialist way are vulnerable to some important objections. We conclude that the causal and epistemic (...) relation between emotions and wellbeing is much less strong than is commonly thought. (shrink)
One difficulty in understanding recent debates is that not only have many terms been used to refer to weakness of will – “akrasia” and “incontinence” have often been used as synonyms of “weakness of will” – but quite different phenomena have been discussed in the literature. This is why the present entry starts with taxonomic considerations. The second section turns to the question of whether it is possible to freely and intentionally act against one’s better judgment.
In this introduction, we give a brief overview of the main concepts of modularity that have been offered in recent literature. After this, we turn to a summary of the papers collected in this volume. Our primary aim is to explain how the modularity of emotion question relates to traditional debates in emotion theory.
Neo-sentimentalism is the view that to judge that something has an evaluative property is to judge that some affective or emotional response is appropriate with respect to it. The difficulty in assessing neo-sentimentalism is that it allows for radically different versions. My aim is to spell out what I take to be its most plausible version. I distinguish between a normative version, which takes the concept of appropriateness to be normative, and a descriptive version, which claims that appropriateness in emotions (...) is a matter of correspondence to evaluative facts. I argue that the latter version can satisfy the normativity requirement that follows from Moore’s Open Question Argument, that it is superior to the former with respect to the explanatory role of values, and with respect to the Wrong Kind of Reason Objection. Finally, I argue that the circularity that is involved is not vicious: understood epistemically, neo-sentimentalism remains instructive. (shrink)
Personal autonomy is often taken to consist in self-government or self-determination. Personal autonomy thus seems to require self-control. However, there is reason to think that autonomy is compatible with the absence of self-control. Akratic action, i.e., action performed against the agent’s better judgement, can be free. And it is also plausible to think that free actions require autonomy. It is only when you determine what you do yourself that you act freely. It follows that akratic actions can be autonomous. At (...) least in some cases, it is the agent herself, and not some alien part of her, who determines her akratic actions. But akratic actions are usually thought to be paradigm cases of self-control failure. Thus, we have reason both to conclude that autonomy requires self-control and that autonomy is compatible with the absence of self-control. My aim is to discuss the main solutions to this paradox. (shrink)
How much can we shape the emotions we experience? Or to put it another way, how plastic are our emotions? It is clear that the exercise of identifying the degree of plasticity of emotion is futile without a prior specification of what can be plastic, so we first propose an analysis of the components of emotions. We will then turn to empirical data that might be used to assess the degree of plasticity of emotions.
We start this overview by discussing the place of emotions within the broader affective domain – how different are emotions from moods, sensations and affective dispositions? Next, we examine the way emotions relate to their objects, emphasizing in the process their intimate relations to values. We move from this inquiry into the nature of emotion to an inquiry into their epistemology. Do they provide reasons for evaluative judgements and, more generally, do they contribute to our knowledge of values? We then (...) address the question of the social dimension of emotions, explaining how the traditional nature vs. nurture contrast applies to the emotions. We finish by exploring the relations between emotions, motivation and action, concluding this overview with a more specific focus on how these relations bear on some central ethical issues. (shrink)
Many people place great stock in the importance of civic virtue to the success of democratic communities. Is this hope well-grounded? The fundamental question is whether it is even possible to cultivate ethical and civic virtues in the first place. Taking for granted that it is possible, at least three further questions arise: What are the key elements of civic virtue? How should we cultivate these virtuous dispositions? And finally, how should schools be organized in order to make the education (...) of citizen possible? These interrelated questions are the focus of this collection. By considering these questions from a variety of philosophical perspectives ranging from moral psychology, philosophy of education, and political philosophy, the nine essays assembled here advance our understanding of the challenges we face in trying to shape children to be virtuous citizens. -/- . (shrink)
In this paper, we propose a defence of Value Realism that relies on the unusual combination of Values Realism with Sentimentalism. What this account, which we call “Sentimental Realism”, holds, in a nutshell, is that what makes evaluative facts special is their relationship to emotions. More precisely, Sentimental Realism claims that evaluative facts are fully objective facts, but that such facts are picked out by concepts that are response-dependent, in the sense that they are essentially tied to emotions. Our plan (...) is as follows. We shall start with a presentation of Sentimental Realism and a discussion of its main virtues. On the basis of this, we shall discuss an objection to Value Realism that draws on evolutionary considerations, the Evolutionary Debunking Argument. We shall argue that Sentimental Realism safely escapes from this dilemma. (shrink)
For someone who is inclined towards truth monism and moral realism, reading this book is like journeying through a foreign country: somewhat disconcerting, but nonetheless enjoyable. Michael Lynch’s world is a stoutly naturalistic world, in which representation is conceived in terms of causal or teleological relations. This is a world in which it is hard to fit normative facts. Thus, the reader is told that there are good reasons to think that ‘moral properties, should they exist, would not be the (...) sort of properties with which we enter into causal contact’ (p. 161). But it is also a world in which thought is conceived of as unified, in the sense that propositions of all kinds, whether about middle-sized dry goods, mathematical objects, or morals, are truth-apt and cognitive, so that they can intermingle in reasoning. What we have, then, is the following: no moral facts in any serious sense of that term, but ordinary moral truth nonetheless. This is an interesting, but difficult, position. What it requires is a decidedly original account of truth, which Lynch dubs the functionalist theory of truth, according to which truth is both one and many. (shrink)
Le Laboratoire d’ANalyse Cognitive de l’Information (LANCI) effectue des recherches sur le traitement cognitif de l’information. La recherche fondamentale porte sur les multiples conceptions de l’information. Elle s’intéresse plus particulièrement aux modèles cognitifs de la classification et de la catégorisation, tant dans une perspective symbolique que connexionniste. La recherche appliquée explore les technologies informatiques qui manipulent l’information. Le territoire privilégié est celui du texte. La recherche est de nature interdisciplinaire. Elle en appelle à la philosophie, à l’informatique, à la linguistique (...) et à la psychologie. Volume 6, Numéro 2007-02 – Août 2007 Publication du Laboratoire d’ANalyse Cognitive de l’Information Directeurs : Luc Faucher, Jean-Guy Meunier, Serge Robert et Pierre Poirier Université du Québec à Montréal Document disponible en ligne à l’adresse suivante : www.lanci.uqam.ca Tirage : 5 exemplaires Aucune partie de cette publication ne peut être conservée dans un système de recherche documentaire, traduite ou reproduite sous quelque forme que ce soit - imprimé, procédé photomécanique, microfilm, microfiche ou tout autre moyen - sans la permission écrite de l’éditeur. Tous droits réservés pour tous pays. / All rights reserved. No part of this publication covered by the copyrights hereon may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means - graphic, electronic or mechanical - without the prior written permission of the publisher. Dépôt légal – Bibliothèque Nationale du Canada Dépôt légal – Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec.. (shrink)
Qu’est-ce qui justifie des normes comme « Tu ne tueras point » ou «Nul ne peut être soumis à la torture »? -/- C’est autour de cette question fondamentale que se sont constituées les trois grandes théories morales : l’éthique des vertus (inspirée d’Aristote), l’éthique des devoirs (mise en forme par Kant) et l’éthique des conséquences (matrice de l’utilitarisme). Qu’est-ce qui distingue ces trois approches ? Y a-t-il des raisons décisives d’en préférer une ? -/- Dans ce livre, Ruwen Ogien (...) et Christine Tappolet montrent que, pour trancher ce débat, il faut clarifier les deux concepts-clés de l’éthique et analyser leurs relations : les normes (qui posent des obligations, des interdictions, des permissions) et les valeurs (qui disent ce qui est bien ou désirable). -/- Ils proposent une hypothèse simple, mais iconoclaste : si pour justifier les normes, il faut nécessairement faire appel à des valeurs, c’est que, contre Kant et Aristote, il faut être conséquentialiste. (shrink)
Are values objective or subjective? To clarify this question we start with an overview of the main concepts and debates in the philosophy of values. We then discuss the arguments for and against value realism, the thesis that there are objective evaluative facts. By contrast with value anti-realism, which is generally associated with sentimentalism, according to which evaluative judgements are grounded in sentiments, value realism is commonly coupled with rationalism. Against this common view, we argue that value realism can be (...) combined with sentimentalism, and we suggest that a plausible account, which we call ‘sentimental realism’, and according to which evaluative judgements are closely related to emotions, can be developped. (shrink)
What is the relation between virtue and wellbeing? Our claim is that, under certain conditions, virtue necessarily tends to have a positive impact on an individual’s wellbeing. This is so because of the connection between virtue and psychological happiness, on the one hand, and between psychological happiness and wellbeing, on the other hand. In particular we defend three claims: that virtue is constituted by a disposition to experience fitting emotions, that fitting emotions are constituents of fitting happiness, and that fitting (...) happiness is a constituent of wellbeing. What follows is that, under certain conditions, virtue disposes the individual to experience wellbeing-constituting states. We end with a discussion of two objections that may be raised against our proposal. (shrink)
C an actions caused by emotions be free and autonomous? The so-called rationalist conception of autonomy denies this. Only actions done in the light of reflexive choices can be autonomous and hence free. I argue that the rationalist conception does not make room for akratic actions, that is, free and intentional actions performed against the agent’s best judgement. I then develop an account inspired by Harry Frankfurt and David Shoemaker, according to which an action is autonomous when it is determined (...) by the agent’s most central cares, where cares are defined in terms of emotional dispositions. (shrink)
On admet en général qu’il y a deux sortes de concepts normatifs : les concepts évaluatifs, comme bon, et les concepts déontiques, comme devoir. La question que soulève cette distinction est celle de savoir comment il est possible d’affirmer que les concepts évaluatifs sont normatifs. En effet, comme les concepts déontiques semblent constituer le coeur du domaine normatif, plus le fossé entre les deux sortes de concepts est grand, moins il paraîtra plausible d’affirmer que les concepts évaluatifs sont normatifs. Après (...) avoir présenté les différences principales entre les concepts évaluatifs et les concepts déontiques, et montré qu’il y a plus qu’une différence superficielle entre les deux sortes de concepts, j’examinerai la question de la normativité des concepts évaluatifs. Il deviendra apparent que même s’il s’agit de concepts ayant des fonctions différentes, il existe un grand nombre de relations entre les concepts évaluatifs, d’une part, et les concepts de devoir et de raison, d’autre part.It is generally accepted that there are two sorts of normative concepts : evaluative concepts, such as good, and deontic concepts, such as ought. The question that is raised by this distinction is how it is possible to claim that evaluative concepts are normative. As deontic concepts appear to be at the heart of normativity, the more there is a gap between evaluative and deontic concepts, the less it appears plausible to say that evaluative concepts are normative. After having presented the main differences between evaluative and deontic concepts, and shown that there is more than a superficial difference between the two sorts of concepts, the paper turns to the question of the normativitity of evaluative concepts. It will become clear that even if these concepts have different functions, there are a great many ties between evaluative concepts, on the one hand, and the concepts of ought and of reason, on the other hand. (shrink)
This paper consists in a critical review of Peter Goldie's book, The Emotion. A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Goldie is right to distinguish between long-term emotions and emotional experiences. And he is also right to reject the view that emotions are reducible to 'feelingless' states plus some extra feelings. However, Goldie's own account in terms of "feeling towards" is problematic. Goldie would have been better advised to claim that emotional experiences are necessarily emotional representations of something as (...) being F (disgusting, attractive, admirable, etc.), that is, that emotional experiences are apprehensions or representations of evaluative features. (shrink)
What account of evaluative expressions, such as ‘is beautiful’, ‘is generous’ or ‘is good’, should a Fregean adopt? Given Frege’s claim that predicates can have both a sense and a reference in addition to their extension, an interesting range of only partially explored theoretical possibilities opens to Frege and his followers. My intention here is to briefly present these putative possibilities and explore one of them, namely David Wiggins’ claim that evaluative predicates refer to non-natural concepts and have a sense (...) which is sentiment-involving. In order to defend this claim against objections which aim at showing that evaluative concepts do not really exist, I shall suggest that our awareness of evaluative concepts involves affective (or emotive) states. (shrink)
In his book Appearances of the Good, Sergio Tenenbaum has offered an impressive new defence of a classical account of practical reason, which marks him as heir to a philosophical tradition going back to Aristotle and Kant or, more recently, to Anscombe and Davidson. This account has come under heavy attack in the past twenty years, and it would be no exaggeration to say that it is now a minority view. This is at least so if one counts the number (...) of living philosophers who deny that strict akratic action is possible. Tenenbaum claims that, minimally, his aim is to show that what he calls after Kant “the scholastic view” still merits a place in the philosophical landscape, and in this respect, it is clear that his enterprise is a success. (shrink)
Can emotions be rational or are they necessarily irrational? Are emotions universally shared states? Or are they socio-cultural constructions? Are emotions perceptions of some kind? Since the publication of Jerry Fodor’s The Modularity of Mind (1983), a new question about the philosophy of emotions has emerged: are emotions modular? A positive answer to this question would mean, minimally, that emotions are cognitive capacities that can be explained in terms of mental components that are functionally dissociable from other parts of the (...) mind. But depending on the kind of modules that are considered, be they Chomskyan, Fodorian, Darwinian, or some other kind, the answer to this question might well be different. The twelve new essays in this volume address the question of whether emotions, or at least some of them, are, in some sense of the word, modules, and explore how this could potentially influence our understanding of emotional phenomena. (shrink)
What’s the relation between values and reasons for action ? According to some all reasons are grounded in values. If one adds to this the thought that values themselves depend on non-evaluative or factual features of things, one gets what one can call after Jonathan Dancy the “layer-cake conception”. According to others, we should replace the layer-cake picture by what he calls the “buck-passing account of values” (Scanlon 1998). The main characteristic of this conception is that it denies that reasons (...) are grounded in values. This is not because some reasons would not be grounded in values. Rather, Scanlon’s claim is that values cannot ground reasons. I shall argue that Scanlon’s conception does not get things right: his account of values amounts in fact to a normative or deontic definition of the evaluative. (shrink)
This introduction consists in a historical overview of the debate about practical irrationality, as illustrated by weakness of will. After a brief reminder of the discussions after Davidson, we consider three important moments of the debate: the ancient debate from Socrates to Xenophon, the medieval debate from Augustine to Buridan, and the modern debate after Descartes. We suggest that it is useful to distinguish weakness of will (a failure to act as one wills) from so-called strict akrasia (a failure to (...) will according to one's better judgment) and raise the question of the metaphysical underpinnings of the internalism/externalism debate. (shrink)