Philosophy and Happiness addresses the need to situate any meaningful discourse about happiness in a wider context of human interests, capacities and circumstances. How is happiness manifested and expressed? Can there be any happiness if no worthy life projects are pursued? How is happiness affected by relationships, illness, or cultural variants? Can it be reduced to preference satisfaction? Is it a temporary feeling or a persistent way of being? Is reflection conducive to happiness? Is mortality necessary for it? These are (...) the questions people ask themselves when they stop and think about how they feel, how their lives are going, and how they would be going if different choices had been made or different values had been prioritized. These are the questions that contributors to this volume begin to answer, adopting different methodologies, among which the analysis of widespread intuitions about imaginary and real-life scenarios, and reflection on the interpretation of the relevant empirical evidence emerging from psychology and economics. (shrink)
What is the relation between emotional experience and its behavioural expression? As very preliminary clarification, I mean by ‘emotional experience’ such things as the subjective feeling of being afraid of something, or of being angry at someone. On the side of behavioural expression, I focus on such things as cowering in fear, or shaking a fist or thumping the table in anger. Very crudely, this is behaviour intermediate between the bodily changes which just happen in emotional arousal, such as sweating (...) or the secretion of adrenalin, and reasoned actions done ‘out of an emotion’, such as breathing deeply to clam down, or writing a letter of complaint, for which a standard rationalizing explanation can be given.1 I pursue the relation between this experience and expression in a somewhat roundabout manner. First, I note an analogy between a problem of other minds, and Berkeley’s (1975) challenge to Locke’s (1975) realism. Second, I sketch what I regard as the correct strategy for meeting this challenge. Third, I develop and defend a parallel response to the problem of other minds, as this applies to certain basic directed emotions. This yields the following answer to my opening question. Reference to the appropriate expressive behaviour is essential to the identification of the way in which various emotional experiences present their worldly objects. (shrink)
I discuss two ways in which emotions explain actions: in the first, the explanation is expressive; in the second, the action is not only explained but also rationalized by the emotion's intentional content. The belief-desire model cannot satisfactorily account for either of these cases. My main purpose is to show that the emotions constitute an irreducible category in the explanation of action, to be understood by analogy with perception. Emotions are affective perceptions. Their affect gives them motivational force, and they (...) can rationalize actions because, like perception, they have a representational intentional content. Because of this, an emotion can non-inferentially justify a belief which in its turn justifies or rationalizes an action; so emotions may constitute a source of moral knowledge. (shrink)
The question is how to explain expressions of emotion. It is argued that not all expressions of emotion are open to the same sort of explanation. Those expressions which are actions can be explained, like other sorts of action, by reference to a belief and a desire; however, no genuine expression of emotion is done as a means to some further end. Certain expressions of emotion which are actions can also be given a deeper explanation as being expressive of a (...) wish. Expressions of emotion which are not actions cannot be given a belief-desire explanation: no belief is involved, and a desire is involved only in an honorific sense of 'desire'. The distinction amongst expressions of emotion between those which are actions and those which are not is not a precise one, and the paper concludes with some speculative remarks about borderline cases such as jumping for joy. (shrink)
The three-dimensional “AIM model” proposed by Hobson et al. is imaginative. However, many kinds of data suggest that the “dimensions” are not orthogonal, but closely correlated. An alternative view is presented in which mental functioning is considered as a continuum, or a group of closely linked continua, running from focused waking activity at one end, to dreaming at the other. The effect of emotional state is increasingly evident towards the dreaming end of the continuum. [Hobson et al.; Nielsen; Solms].
Social cognition researchers have become increasingly interested in the ways that behavioral, physiological, and neural coupling facilitate social interaction and interpersonal understanding. We distinguish two ways of conceptualizing the role of such coupling processes in social cognition: strong and moderate interactionism. According to strong interactionism (SI), low-level coupling processes are alternatives to higher-level individual cognitive processes; the former at least sometimes render the latter superfluous. Moderate interactionism(MI) on the other hand, is an integrative approach. Its guiding assumption is that higher-level (...) cognitive processes are likely to have been shaped by the need to coordinate, modulate, and extract information from low-level coupling processes. In this paper, we present a case study on Möbius Syndrome (MS) in order to contrast SI and MI. We show how MS—a form of congenital bilateral facial paralysis—can be a fruitful source of insight for research exploring the relation between high-level cognition and low-level coupling. Lacking a capacity for facial expression, individuals with MS are deprived of a primary channel for gestural coupling. According to SI, they lack an essential enabling feature for social interaction and interpersonal understanding more generally and thus ought to exhibit severe deficits in these areas. We challenge SI’s prediction and show how MS cases offer compelling reasons for instead adopting MI’s pluralistic model of social interaction and interpersonal understanding. We conclude that investigations of coupling processes within social interaction should inform rather than marginalize or eliminate investigation of higher-level individual cognition. (shrink)
Among discrete emotions, basic emotions are the most elemental; most distinct; most continuous across species, time, and place; and most intimately related to survival-critical functions. For an emotion to be afforded basic emotion status it must meet criteria of: (a) distinctness (primarily in behavioral and physiological characteristics), (b) hard-wiredness (circuitry built into the nervous system), and (c) functionality (provides a generalized solution to a particular survival-relevant challenge or opportunity). A set of six emotions that most clearly meet these criteria (enjoyment, (...) anger, disgust, fear, surprise, sadness) and three additional emotions (relief/contentment, interest, love) for which the evidence is not yet quite as strong is described. Empirical approaches that are most and least useful for establishing basic-emotion status are discussed. Basic emotions are thought to have a central organizing mechanism and to have the capacity to influence behavior, thoughts, and other fundamental processes. (shrink)
In recent years, several minimalist accounts of joint action have been offered (e.g. Tollefsen Philosophy of the Social Sciences 35:75–97, 2005; Sebanz et al. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 31(6): 234–1246, 2006; Vesper et al. Neural Networks 23 (8/9): 998–1003, 2010), which seek to address some of the shortcomings of classical accounts. Minimalist accounts seek to reduce the cognitive complexity demanded by classical accounts either by leaving out shared intentions or by characterizing them in a way that (...) does not demand common knowledge of complex, interconnected structures of intentions. Moreover, they propose models of the actual factors facilitating online coordination of movements. The present proposal aims to enrich a minimalist framework by showing how shared emotions can facilitate coordination without presupposing common knowledge of complex, interconnected structures of intentions. Shared emotions are defined for the purposes of this paper as affective states that fulfill two minimal criteria: (a) they are expressed (verbally or otherwise) by one person; and (b) the expression is perceived (consciously or unconsciously) by another person. Various ways in which the fulfillment of (a) and (b) can lead to effects that function as coordinating factors in joint action are distinguished and discussed. (shrink)
Can consideration of the emotions help to solve the problem of other minds? Intuitively, it should. We often think of emotions as public: as observable in the body, face, and voice of others. Perhaps you can simply see another's disgust or anger, say, in her demeanour and expression; or hear the sadness clearly in his voice. Publicity of..
We argue that there are three coherent, nontrivial notions of basic-ness: conceptual basic-ness, biological basic-ness, and psychological basic-ness. There is considerable evidence for conceptually basic emotion categories (e.g., “anger,” “fear”). These categories do not designate biologically basic emotions, but some forms of anger, fear, and so on that are biologically basic in a sense we will specify. Finally, two notions of psychological basic-ness are distinguished, and the evidence for them is evaluated. The framework we offer acknowledges the force of some (...) of the objections to basic emotion theory whilst demonstrating that the notion of a basic emotion, once properly reformulated, is still of scientific value. (shrink)
Philosophers since Aristotle have explored emotion, and the study of emotion has always been essential to the love of wisdom. In recent years Anglo-American philosophers have rediscovered and placed new emphasis on this very old discipline. The view that emotions are ripe for philosophical analysis has been supported by a considerable number of excellent publications. In this volume, Robert Solomon brings together some of the best Anglo-American philosophers now writing on the philosophy of emotion, with chapters from philosophers who have (...) distinguished themselves in the field of emotion research and have interdisciplinary interests, particularly in the social and biological sciences. The reader will find a lively variety of positions on topics such as the nature of emotion, the category of "emotion," the rationality of emotions, the relationship between an emotion and its expression, the relationship between emotion, motivation, and action, the biological nature versus social construction of emotion, the role of the body in emotion, the extent of freedom and our control of emotions, the relationship between emotion and value, and the very nature and warrant of theories of emotion. In addition, this book acknowledges that it is impossible to study the emotions today without engaging with contemporary psychology and the neurosciences, and moreover engages them with zeal. Thus the essays included here should appeal to a broad spectrum of emotion researchers in the various theoretical, experimental, and clinical branches of psychology, in addition to theorists in philosophy, philosophical psychology, moral psychology, and cognitive science, the social sciences, and literary theory. (shrink)
What do we see when we look at someone's expression of fear? I argue that one of the things that we see is fear itself. I support this view by developing a theory of affect perception. The theory involves two claims. One is that expressions are patterns of facial changes that carry information about affects. The other is that the visual system extracts and processes such information. In particular, I argue that the visual system functions to detect the affects of (...) others when they are expressed in the face. I develop my theory by drawing on empirical data from psychology and brain science. Finally, I outline a theory of the semantics of affect perception. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that one of the functions of the perceptual system is to detect other people’s emotions when they are expressed in the face. I support this view by developing two separate but interdependent accounts. The first says that facial expressions of emotions carry information about the emotions that produced them, and about some of their properties. The second says that the visual system functions to extract the information that expressions carry about emotions.
Happiness, like other basic emotions, has visual properties that create the conditions for happiness to be perceived in others. This is to say that happiness is perceivable. Its visual properties are to be identified with those facial expressions that are characteristic of happiness. Yet saying that something is perceivable does not suffice for us to conclude that it is perceived. We therefore need to show that happiness is perceived. Empirical evidence suggests that the visual system functions to perceive happiness as (...) well as other basic emotions. Experiences that can be had simply by virtue of how the perceptual system functions are known as observations. I will thus argue that visual experiences in which we become aware of others’ happiness are observations. This approach will provide the necessary conceptual framework to show that we have perceptual knowledge of others’ happiness. (shrink)
This thesis addresses two questions. One concerns the metaphysics of emotions and asks what kinds of mental states emotions are. The other asks how the metaphysics of emotions bears on first and third-personal knowledge of emotions. There are two prevailing views on the nature of emotions. They are the perception and cognitive views. The perception view argues that emotions are bodily feelings. The cognitive view, by contrast, contends that emotions are some sorts of evaluative judgments. I show that both views (...) provide inadequate accounts of the nature of emotions. The perception view fails to do justice to the fact that emotions may not involve any bodily feeling. The cognitive view, by contrast, cannot account for the fact that emotions are states that adult humans have in common with infants and animals. On the basis of these criticisms, I put forward an alternative account of emotions. This involves five main arguments. The first is that emotions are enduring non-episodic dispositions that may or may not manifest themselves in experiential episodes such as emotional feelings and behaviour episodes such as expressions. The second argument is that emotional feelings are perceptions of specific bodily changes brought about by emotions. These feelings serve as clues as to what kinds of emotions the subject has. The third argument is that expressions are observable manifestations of emotions in virtue of which emotions can be perceived and subsequently known, directly and non-inferentially, by other people. The fourth argument is that when someone has an emotion without feeling it, she can still come to know it by believing true ascriptions that other people make about the emotion they perceive in her expression. The fifth argument is that full knowledge of emotions requires knowledge of the emotion objects. (shrink)