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.
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.
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)
ABSTRACT: 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 to it, but this view allows for radically different versions. My aim is to spell out what I take to be its most plausible version. Against its normative version, I argue that its descriptive version can best satisfy the normativity requirement that follows from Moore’s Open Question Argument while giving an answer 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)
Empirical assessments of Cognitive Behavioral Theory and theoretical considerations raise questions about the fundamental theoretical tenet that psychological disturbances are mediated by consciously accessible cognitive structures. This paper considers this situation in light of emotion theory in philosophy. We argue that the “perceptual theory” of emotions, which underlines the parallels between emotions and sensory perceptions, suggests a conception of cognitive mediation that can accommodate the observed empirical anomalies and one that is consistent with the dual-processing models dominant in cognitive psychology.
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)
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)
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)
Les émotions peuvent être pénibles, voire néfastes. Pensons par exemple à la peur, la colère, la haine, la jalousie ou au mépris. De telles émotions sont souvent qualifiées de négatives. Mais que sont les émotions négatives et comment se distinguent-elles des émotions positives ? Plus généralement, qu’impliquent-elles pour notre compréhension des émotions ? Et quels sont concrètement leurs effets sur nos pensées et nos vies ? De plus, comment analyser l’ambivalence affective, comme quand on ressent à la fois de l’amour (...) et de la haine ? Réunissant dix contributions rédigées pour l’occasion, Les ombres de l’âme propose des éléments de réponses originaux à ces questions. Ce faisant, cet ouvrage jette les bases d’une philosophie des émotions négatives. (shrink)
Cette introduction à une collection d'articles sur la normativité propose d'adopter les divisions trouvées habituellement en éthique pour aborder la normativité. Ainsi, il semble utile de diviser les questions en cinq groupes: l'ontologie normative, la sémantique normative, l'épistémologie normative, la psychologie normative, et finalement, les questions normatives substantielles.
This introduction to a collection of papers on normativity provides a framework modelled on the division in ethics to approach normative issues. It suggests that is is useful to divide questions about normativity into five groups: normative ontology, normative semantics, normative epistemology, normative psychology, and substantial normative theory.
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)
The special concern we have for our future selves is often seen as making for a problem for psychological continuity theories, such as Derek Parfit's. On the basis of an account of the various kinds of procrastination, and of the ways imprudent procrastination involves harm to future selves, the paper argues that procrastinators often impose an uncompensated burden on their future selves, something that is best explained by a lack of concern for their future selves. Given this, the objections to (...) psychological continuity theories based on the idea of a special concern for our future selves are in serious trouble. (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)
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.
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Sarah Stroud and Christine Tappolet present eleven original essays on weakness of will, a topic straddling the divide between moral philosophy and philosophy of mind, and the subject of much current attention. An international team of established scholars and younger talent provide perspectives on all the key issues in this fascinating debate; the book will be essential reading for anyone working in the area. Issues covered include classical questions, such as the distinction between weakness and compulsion, the connection between evaluative (...) judgment and motivation, the role of emotions in akrasia, rational agency, and the existence of the will. They 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)
The author maintains that the liberal argument advanced by Dworkin et al. implies a more general moral right, one that is not restricted to people in their terminal phase. The author then discusses Velleman's claim that this argument is subject to the following incoherence: invoking the idea that death is a benefit for a person implies that the person in question is endowed with a value that death would destroy. The author shows that the apparent plausibility of this counterargument is (...) due to a confusion between different evaluative concepts. (shrink)
Sarah Stroud and Christine Tappolet present eleven original essays on weakness of will, a topic straddling the divide between moral philosophy and philosophy of mind, and the subject of much current attention. An international team of established scholars and younger talent provide perspectives on all the key issues in this fascinating debate; the book will be essential reading for anyone working in the area.
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.
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)
Moral Platonism, the claim that moral entities are both objective and prescriptive, is generally thought to be a dead end. In an attempt to defend a moderate form of moral Platonism or more precisely Platonism about values, I first argue that several of the many versions of this doctrine are not committed to ontological extravagances. I then discuss an important objection due to John McDowell and developed by Michael Smith, according to which moral Platonism is incoherent. I argue that objectivism (...) is compatible with the claim that certain ways of being aware of values, namely those involving emotions, are motivating. (shrink)
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)
Some concepts, such as colour concepts or value concepts, seem to bear traces of the mind's own make-up. For instance, the character of perceptually-determined colour concepts seems in some sense derivative from the character of the visual system. Thus, it has seemed plausible to claim that the corresponding colour properties are dispositions to elicit certain visual experiences in normal observers under suitable conditions. Much the same has been suggested for value concepts. An extreme position would be that colours and values (...) therefore are not in the world at all, they instead are mere projections that tell us more about the users of response-dependent concepts than about the world they inhabit. But even setting aside such extreme views, a number of important philosophical and psychological questions remain open. What exactly is response-dependence, and does any concept have this feature? What is the appropriate metaphysics for properties represented by response-dependent concepts, and for these concepts themselves? What determines the extension of such properties? How are we to account for knowledge expressed in terms of response-dependent concepts? What mechanisms correctly explain the origins of response-dependent concepts, and their role in representation? This volume brings together a wide range of views on these questions. (shrink)