Thinking with your hypothalamus: Reflections on a cognitive role for the reactive emotions

In “Freedom and Resentment,” P. F. Strawson argues that the “profound opposition” between the objective and reactive stances is quite compatible with our rationally retaining the latter as important elements in a recognizably human life. Unless he can establish this, he has no hope of establishing his version of compatibilism in the free will debate. But, because objectivity is associated so intimately with the rationally conducted explanation of action, it is not clear how the opposition of these stances is compatible with the rationality of the reactive attitudes. More to the point. it is not clear how an intellectual activity like shifting from the reactive to the objective stance can dispel reactive attitudes without thereby also rationally disqualifying them. I solve this puzzle by drawing on the idea that one cognitive component of emotions is the rationally optional “shift of attention,” a feature which in tum helps to explain a lot about the role reactive emotions can play in the fixation of belief
Keywords Cognition  Emotion  Freedom  Metaphysics  Thinking  Strawson
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2001.tb00123.x
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