A clever argument purports to show that we can directly perceive the emotions of others: (1) some emotional expressions are parts of the emotions they express; (2) perceiving a part of something is sufficient for perceiving the whole; (3) therefore, perceiving some emotional expressions is sufficient for perceiving the emotions they express. My aim in this paper is to assess the extent to which contemporary psychological theories of emotion support the first premise of this argument.
I expand upon Kristie Dotson's concept of “epistemic violence” by identifying another type of epistemic violence that arises in the context of nonverbal communication. “Emotional misperception,” as I call it, occurs when the following conditions are met: A misreads B's nonlinguistic expression of emotion, owing to reliable ignorance, harming B.
We contribute to the growing literature on white fragility by examining how the distinctively emotional manifestations of white fragility (which we dub ‘emotional white fragility’) make it more difficult for white people to have constructive, meaningful thoughts and conversations about race. We claim that emotional white fragility typically involves a failure of emotion regulation, or the ability to manage one’s emotions in real time. We suggest that this lack of emotion regulation can contribute to an unjust distribution of burdens that (...) can further entrench moral damage in the context of relationships as well as help support large-scale patterns of white supremacy. Given the serious implications of emotional white fragility, we suggest a number of emotion regulation techniques that one can deploy to mitigate the potential harms wrought by emotional white fragility. (shrink)
According to the Perceptual Analysis of Emotional Expression, behaviors express emotions by making them perceptually manifest. A smile is an expression of joy because an observer who sees a smile can see joy. A pout is an expression of grief because an observer who sees a pout can see grief. And a growl is an expression of anger because an observer who hears a growl can hear anger. The idea is not simply that expressions can enable the perception of emotion, (...) but that expressions essentially do so. In the course of defending this analysis against challenges, I develop a novel account of the relationship between language and expression. (shrink)
I offer a novel view of the mechanisms underlying the spontaneous facial expression of emotion. According to my Social Amplification View, facial expressions result from the interplay of two processes: an emotional process that activates specific facial muscles, though not always to the point of visible contraction, followed by a social cognitive process that amplifies these activations so that they may function more effectively as social signals. I argue that SAV outperforms both the Neurocultural View and the Behavioral Ecology View, (...) as well as previously proposed syntheses of these views, in accounting for various empirical findings. (shrink)
Can we read emotions in faces? Many studies suggest that we can, yet skeptics contend that these studies employ methods that unwittingly help subjects in matching faces with emotions. Some studies present subjects with posed faces, which may be more exaggerated than spontaneous ones. And some studies provide subjects with a list of emotion words to choose from, which forces them to interpret faces in specific emotion terms. I argue that the skeptics’ challenge rests on a false assumption: that once (...) subjects leave the lab, they no longer receive help in matching faces with emotions. I contend that people receive as much help in the wild as they do in the lab. People unconsciously amplify their spontaneous expressions in the presence of others, thereby making them easier to read. And people teach children to interpret faces in the same specific emotion terms found in the experimenters’ word lists. I argue that we are good at readings emotions in faces because we can normally count on a little help from our friends. (shrink)
ABSTRACTEric Funkhouser argues that beliefs can function as social signals. I argue that Funkhouser’s argument for this conclusion rests on a problematic definition of “signal,” and that on standard definitions, the imperceptibility of beliefs disqualifies them from counting as signals. However, I also argue that Funkhouser’s insights about the social functions of beliefs can be true even if his claim that beliefs are signals is false.
Charles Sanders Peirce famously distinguishes between three types of sign, depending on how the sign refers to its object. An "icon" refers by resemblance. An "index" refers by a physical connection. And a "symbol" refers by habit or convention. Peirce allows for signs to refer in more ways than one—onomatopoeias refer both by resemblance and by convention, for instance 1—but he insists that there are no further ways in which signs can refer to their objects.In this paper I shall argue (...) that emotional expressions—e.g. cries of sadness, laughs of amusement, and scowls of anger—refer to emotions neither by... (shrink)
Richard Wollheim claims that speech acts express emotions always in virtue of how they are said and never solely in virtue of what they say. However, it would seem to follow that we cannot express our emotions in writing, since texts preserve what we wish to say without recording how we would wish to say it. I argue that Wollheim’s thesis in fact sheds new light on how authors can and do express their emotions in writing. In short, an author (...) must employ a variety of techniques within appropriate contexts to substitute for the non-verbal behaviours that would express her emotions physically. This substitution constitutes a ‘virtual expression’ just in case it empowers readers to vividly imagine the production of these behaviours. (shrink)
Beginning in The Gay Science, Nietzsche repeatedly exhorts his readers to laugh. But why? I argue that Nietzsche wants us to laugh because the emotion that laughter expresses, mirth, plays an important psychological-cum-epistemological role in his attack on traditional morality. I contend that Nietzsche views mirth as an attitude that is uniquely suited to rooting out beliefs that have covertly infiltrated our psychologies. And given that Nietzsche considers morality to be insidious, or to maintain its hold over us even after (...) we think that we have freed ourselves from it, we need mirth to expose its nefarious workings. Thus, while mirth is not the only attitude that Nietzsche recommends that we adopt toward the dictates of traditional morality – indeed, he suggests that we adopt many others as well – mirth nevertheless enjoys a privileged status within Nietzsche’s spirited polemics, which is why he dubs his philosophy a ‘gay science.’. (shrink)
William P. Alston argues in “Expressing” (1965) that there is no important difference between expressing a feeling in language and asserting that one has that feeling. My aims in this paper are (1) to show that Alston's arguments ought to have led him to a different conclusion—that “asserting” and “expressing” individuate speech acts at different levels of analysis (the illocutionary and the locutionary, respectively)—and (2) to argue that this conclusion can solve a problem facing contemporary analyses of expressing: the “no (...) show tell” problem, or the problem of accounting for utterances that report feelings truly without expressing them. Alston's paper made an important contribution 50 years ago, and a reimagining of it can make another important contribution today. (shrink)
In “Reactive Attitudes as Communicative Entities” , Coleen Macnamara argues that the reactive attitudes—a class of moral emotions that includes indignation, resentment, and gratitude—are essentially communicative entities. She argues that this conclusion follows from the premises that the reactive attitudes are messages, which have the proper function of eliciting uptake from others. In response, I argue that while the expressions of these emotions may fit this description, the emotions themselves do not. The reactive attitudes neither are messages nor have the (...) proper function of eliciting uptake from others, and thus Macnamara is mistaken to conclude that the reactive attitudes are essentially communicative entities. (shrink)
Robert B. Pippin: Hegel on Self-Consciousness: Desire and Death in the Phenomenology of Spirit Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 481-487 DOI 10.1007/s10746-011-9199-4 Authors Trip Glazer, Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA Journal Human Studies Online ISSN 1572-851X Print ISSN 0163-8548 Journal Volume Volume 34 Journal Issue Volume 34, Number 4.
Sally Sedgwick’s most recent book is not, as its title might suggest, an exhaustive compendium of Hegel’s criticisms of Kant. Instead, it is something that is in many respects far more valuable: it is a detailed and thorough investigation of one particular criticism, which Sedgwick claims we must understand if we are to see any of Hegel’s other criticisms in their proper light. As a scholar who has published extensively on these other criticisms, her claim should be taken seriously.
Classic accounts of the evolution of human cooperation conceive emotions as automatic and uncontrollable impulses toward prosocial behavior. I argue that this view of emotion is incorrect, but that classic accounts of the evolution of human cooperation can benefit from an alternative view. The social and moral emotions are not untamed passions, but carefully cultivated and regulated states, which promote cooperation only if they develop properly in childhood and then are actively managed in adulthood. I argue that part and parcel (...) of the normal development of human emotion is the development of emotion regulation skills, or abilities to intervene on and manage one’s emotions in real time. I then argue that unmanaged emotions – or emotions that evade an individual’s control – tend to discourage cooperation, while managed emotions – or emotions that are brought under control – tend to encourage it. Finally, I argue that the cultivation of emotion regulation skills allows social and moral emotions to continue to promote cooperation, even though the world that many humans inhabit today is radically different from the world in which these emotions first evolved. (shrink)
In this chapter, we explore three social functions of emotion, which parallel three interpretations of Herman Melville's Bartleby. We argue that emotions can serve as commitment devices, which nudge individuals toward social conformity and thereby increase the likelihood of ongoing cooperation. We argue that emotions can play a role in Machiavellian strategies, which help us get away with norm violations. And we argue that emotions can motivate social recalibration, by alerting us to systemic social failures. In the second half of (...) the chapter, we then argue that emotions guide behavior by attuning us to our social environment through a process of error-driven learning. We suggest that their most basic social function is to reveal tensions between individuals and social norms; and we contend that because emotions are socially scaffolded, they leave open multiple strategies for resolving such tensions. Specifically, we argue that differences in conceptualization, as well as differences in circumstance, can generate emotions that nudge us toward cooperation, lead us to adopt Machiavellian strategies, or motivate us to engage in forms of social recalibration. Bartleby’s despair signaled a mismatch between his expectations and the expectations of Wall Street, and each of these three strategies could have moderated his misery. (shrink)
The dust jacket to A Natural History of Human Morality advertises “the most detailed account to date of the evolution of human moral psychology.” Reading this description, you might expect a hefty, multi-volume work filled with mitochondrial maps, genotype to fitness landscapes, and appendix after appendix of experimental results. Thankfully, you will find none of these things within this slim, breezy, 163-page monograph. What you will find could be better described as an “introduction” or an “outline” to an ongoing research (...) program, which may very well become the “the most detailed account…of the evolution of human moral psychology” that we can hope for. But the greatest virtue of A Natural History of Human... (shrink)