In recent years, multidisciplinary study has become all the rage in academic circles. Scholars have been going all out for interdisciplinarity, not only in research programs, but pedagogically in the classroom, and structurally in higher education curricula. Fewer and fewer cautionary voices are being heeded or even heard in this conversation. In this essay, I advocate a mediating position on this issue that has emerged from reflecting on my own professional work with interdisciplinary scholarship. That work includes research, scholarship, and (...) teaching in the fields of theology, religion and science, and religion and literature, as well as ten years of editorial experience with the American Journal of Theology and .. (shrink)
We must admire the ambition of Prinz’s title question. But does he provide a convincing answer to it? Prinz’s own view of morality as “a byproduct – accidental or invented – of faculties that evolved for different purposes (1),” which appears to express a negative reply, does not receive much direct argument here. Rather, Prinz’s main aim is to try to show that the considerations he believes are typically presented by moral nativists are insufficient or inadequate to establish that morality (...) is innate. He discusses, individually, how much evidential weight the (alleged) existence of (1) universal moral norms, (2) universal moral domains, (3) fixed stages in moral development, and (4) precursors to morality among non-human animals lend to nativist claims, and, in addition, he argues that poverty-of-the-moral-stimulus arguments are as yet unconvincing. “[C]urrent evidence,” Prinz claims, “is consistent with the conclusion that children acquire moral competence through experience (22).” It is not my intention here to follow Prinz’s piecemeal criticisms of moral nativism. In their attacks on linguistic nativism (see, e.g., Cowie 1999) and now on moral nativism, empiricists typically deploy the.. (shrink)
In this response to Malt's and Prinz's commentaries, I argue that neo-empiricist hypotheses fail to threaten the argument for the elimination of ‘concept’ because they are unlikely to be true of all concepts, if they are true at all. I also defend the hypothesis that we possess bodies of knowledge retrieved by default from long-term memory, and I argue that prototypes, exemplars, and theories form genuinely distinct concepts.
Prinz claims that empirical work on emotions and moral judgement can help us resolve longstanding metaethical disputes in favour of simple sentimentalism. I argue that the empirical evidence he marshals does not have the metaethical implications he claims: the studies purporting to show that having an emotion is sufficient for making a moral judgement are tendentiously described. We are entitled to ascribe competence with moral concepts to experimental subjects only if we suppose that they would withdraw their moral judgement on (...) learning that they were fully explained by hypnotically induced disgust. Genuine moral judgements must be reason-responsive. To capture the reason-responsiveness of moral judgement, we must turn to either neo-sentimentalism or to a non-sentimentalist metaethics, either of which is fully compatible with the empirical evidence Prinz cites. (shrink)
Jesse Prinz argues that recent work in philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology supports two radical hypotheses about the nature of morality: moral values are based on emotional responses, and these emotional responses are inculcated by culture, not hard-wired through natural selection. In the first half of the book, Jesse Prinz defends the hypothesis that morality has an emotional foundation. Evidence from brain imaging, social psychology, and psychopathology suggest that, when we judge something to be right or wrong, we are (...) merely expressing our emotions. Prinz argues that these emotions do not track objective features of reality; rather, the rightness and wrongness of an act consists in the fact that people are disposed to have certain emotions towards it. In the second half of the book, he turns to a defense of moral relativism. Moral facts depend on emotional responses, and emotional responses vary from culture to culture. Prinz surveys the anthropological record to establish moral variation, and he draws on cultural history to show how attitudes toward practices such as cannibalism and marriage change over time. He also criticizes evidence from animal behavior and child development that has been taken to support the claim that moral attitudes are hard-wired by natural selection. Prinz concludes that there is no single true morality, but he also argues that some moral values are better than others; moral progress is possible. Throughout the book, Prinz relates his views to contemporary and historical work in philosophical ethics. His views echo themes in the writings of David Hume and Friedrich Nietzsche, but Prinz supports, extends, and revises these classic theories using the resources of cutting-edge cognitive science. The Emotional Construction of Morals will stimulate and challenge anyone who is curious about the nature and origin of moral values. (shrink)
Prinz (Perceptual the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis, MIT Press, 2002) presents a new species of concept empiricism, under which concepts are off-line long-term memory networks of representations that are ‘copies’ of perceptual representations – proxytypes. An apparent obstacle to any such empiricism is the prevailing nativism of generative linguistics. The paper critically assesses Prinz’s attempt to overcome this obstacle. The paper argues that, prima facie, proxytypes are as incapable of accounting for the structure of the linguistic mind as (...) are the more traditional species of empiricism. This position is then confirmed by looking in detail at two suggestions (one derived from recent connectionist research) from Prinz of how certain aspects of syntactic structure might be accommodated by the proxytype theory. It is shown that the suggestions fail to come to terms with both the data and theory of contemporary linguistics. (shrink)
One stream in contemporary philosophical and psychological study of the emotions argues that they are perceptual capacities. The present project is to compare and contrast two possible models of emotional perception. The central difference between these models is the notion of modularity, and the corresponding overall view of the nature of the mind, that they use. One model uses classic, Fodorian modules, which S.L. Hurley characterizes as “vertical”. The other model uses “horizontal” modules. I suggest some empirical tests that might (...) adjudicate between these different kinds of emotional modularity, and hence between these two models of emotional perception. I conclude with some remarks about the extent of the relevance of this issue. (shrink)
When Fodor titled his (1983) book the _Modularity of Mind_, he overstated his position. His actual view is that the mind divides into systems some of which are modular and others of which are not. The book would have been more aptly, if less provocatively, called _The Modularity of Low-Level Peripheral Systems_. High-level perception and cognitive systems are non-modular on Fodor’s theory. In recent years, modularity has found more zealous defenders, who claim that the entire mind divides into highly specialized (...) modules. This view has been especially popular among Evolutionary Psychologists. They claim that the mind is massively modular (Cosmides and Tooby, 1994; Sperber, 1994; Pinker, 1997; see also Samuels, 1998). Like a Swiss Army Knife, the mind is an assembly of specialized tools, each of which has been designed for some particular purpose. My goal here is to raise doubts about both peripheral modularity and massive modularity. To do that, I will rely on the criteria for modularity laid out by Fodor (1983). I will argue that neither input systems, nor central systems are modular on any of these criteria. (shrink)
Situationists argue that virtue ethics is empirically untenable, since traditional virtue ethicists postulate broad, efficacious character traits, and social psychology suggests that such traits do not exist. I argue that prominent philosophical replies to this challenge do not succeed. But cross-cultural research gives reason to postulate character traits, and this undermines the situationist critique. There is, however, another empirical challenge to virtue ethics that is harder to escape. Character traits are culturally informed, as are our ideals of what traits are (...) virtuous, and our ideals of what qualifies as well-being. If virtues and well-being are culturally constructed ideals, then the standard strategy for grounding the normativity of virtue ethics in human nature is undermined. (shrink)
Aesthetics is a normative domain. We evaluate artworks as better or worse, good or bad, great or grim. I will refer to a positive appraisal of an artwork as an aesthetic appreciation of that work, and I refer to a negative appraisal as aesthetic depreciation. (I will often drop the word “aesthetic.”) There has been considerable amount of work on what makes an artwork worthy of appreciation, and less, it seems, on the nature of appreciation itself. These two topics are (...) related, of course, because they nature of appreciation may bear on what things are worthy of that response, or at least on what things are likely to elicit it. So I will have some things to say about the latter. But I want to focus in this discussion on appreciation itself. When we praise a work of art, when we say it has aesthetic value, what does our praise consist in? This is a question about aesthetic psychology. I am interested in what kind of mental state appreciation is. What kind of state are we expressing when we say a work of art is “good”? This question has parallels in other areas of value theory. In ethics, most notably, there has been much attention lavished on the question of what people express when they refer to an action as “morally good.” One popular class of theories, associated with the British moralists and their followers, posits a link between moral valuation and emotion. To call an act morally good is to express an emotion toward that act. I think this approach to morality is right on target (Prinz, 2007). Here I want to argue that an emotional account of aesthetic valuation is equally promising. There are important differences between the two domains, but both have an affective foundation. I suspect that valuing of all kinds involves the emotions. Here I will inquire into the role of emotions in aesthetic valuing. I will not claim that artworks express emotions or even that they necessarily evoke emotions.. (shrink)
It is widely believed that empathy is a good thing, from a moral point of view. It is something we should cultivate because it makes us better people. Perhaps that’s true. But it is also sometimes suggested that empathy is somehow necessary for morality. That is the hypothesis I want to interrogate and challenge. Not only is there little evidence for the claim that empathy is necessary, there is also reason to think empathy can interfere with the ends of morality. (...) A capacity for empathy might make us better people, but placing empathy at the center of our moral lives may be ill‐advised. That is not to say that morality shouldn’t centrally involve emotions. I think emotions are essential for moral judgment and moral motivation (Prinz, 2007). It’s just that empathetic emotions are not ideally suited for these jobs. Before embarking on this campaign against empathy, I want to say a little more about the target of the attack. What is empathy? And what would it mean to say empathy is necessary for morality? With respect to the first question, much has been written. Theories of empathy abound. Batson et al. (1995: 1042) define empathy as, “as an other‐oriented emotional response congruent with the perceived welfare of another person.” This is not the definition I will be using. Batson’s construct might be better characterized as “concern,” because of its focus on another person’s welfare. Indeed, in much of his research he talks about “empathetic concern.” Notice that this construct seems to be a combination of two separable things. Being concerned for someone is worrying about their welfare, which is something one can do even if one doesn’t feel what it would be like to be in their place. One can have concern for a plant, for example, and an insect, or even an artifact, like a beautiful building that has into disrepair. Empathy, seems to connote a kind of feeling that has to be at last possible for the object of empathy. If so, “empathetic concern” combines two different things—a find of feeling‐for an object and a feeling‐on‐behalf‐of an object. Much of the empirical literature, including the superb research that Batson has done, fails to isolate these components, and, as a result, some of the existing studies are confounded. They purport to show the value of empathy, but may really show the value of concern. My focus below will be on empathy, and I leave it as an open possibility that concern is highly important, if not necessary, for morality. Indeed, concern often seems to involve an element kind of moral anger, which I will argue is very important to morality. It is also important to distinguish empathy from sympathy. Suppose I feel outraged for someone who has been brainwashed into thinking she should follow a cult leader who is urging mass suicide. That would not necessarily qualify as empathy. As Darwall (1998: 261) points out, sympathy is a third‐person emotional response, whereas empathy involves putting oneself in another person’s shoes. But 1 Darwall’s definition is also somewhat problematic. He says, “Empathy consists in feeling what one imagines he feels, or perhaps should feel (fear, say), or in some imagined copy of these feelings, whether one comes thereby to be concerned … or not.” This definition has two features, which I would like to avoid. First, the appeal to imagination seems overly intellectual. Imagination sounds like a kind of mental act that requires effort on the part of the imaginer. As Darwell recognizes, empathy in its simplest form empathy is just emotional contagion: catching the emotion that another person feels (Hatfield et al., 1994; Hoffman, 2000). It seems inflated to call contagion an imaginative act. Also, I want to resist Darwall’s application of “empathy” to cases where one has a feeling that someone should feel, but does not feel. The problem is that this tends to blur the distinction between empathy and sympathy. Suppose I encounter a member of a cult who is delighted by the cult leader’s nefarious plans. The cult member should by afraid, but is not. If I feel fear on the cult member’s behalf, that is not putting myself in the cult member’s shoes. As I will use the term, empathy requires a kind of emotional mimicry. I do not wish to imply that empathy is always an automatic process, in the way that emotional contagion is. Sometimes imagination is requires, and sometimes we experience emotions that we think someone would be experiencing, even if we have not seen direct evidence that the emotion is, in fact, being experienced. For example, one might feel empathetic hope for a marathon runner who is a few steps behind the runner is first place, or anxiety for the first place runner, and the second place runner catches up. We can experience these feelings even if the runners’ facial expressions reveal little more than muscular contortions associated with concentration and physical exertion. A situation can reveal a feeling. The core idea, as I will use the term, is that empathy is a kind of vicarious emotion: it’s feeling what one takes another person to be feeling. And the “taking” here can be a matter of automatic contagion or the result of a complicated exercise of the imagination. I don’t think there is anything anachronistic about this notion of empathy. I think it has a long tradition in moral philosophy, even though the term “empathy” is only 100 years old. The British moralists, including David Hume and Adam Smith, used “sympathy” in way that is similar to the way I want to use “empathy.” Here is Smith (1759: II.i): “Whatever is the passion which arises from any object in the person principally concerned, an analogous emotion springs up, at the thought of his situation, in the breast of every attentive spectator.” My question, in the pages that follow, is whether empathy so‐defined is necessary for morality. I should note again, in advance, that the empirical literature does not always distinguish between the constructs I have been discussing, but I do think that all the studies I discuss below can, by inference at least, shed some light on empathy as defined here. The suggestion that empathy is necessary for morality can be interpreted in at least three different ways. One might hold the view that empathy is necessary for making moral judgment. One might think empathy is necessary for moral development. And one might think empathy is necessary for motivating moral conduct. I think each of these conjectures is false. Empathy is not necessary for any of these things. We can have moral systems without empathy. Of course, it doesn’t follow directly that empathy should be eliminated from morality. One might think the modal question—Can there be morality without empathy?—and the related.... (shrink)
When people are trying to determine whether an entity is capable of having certain kinds of mental states, they can proceed either by thinking about the entity from a *functional* standpoint or by thinking about the entity from a *physical* standpoint. We conducted a series of studies to determine how each of these standpoints impact people’s mental state ascriptions. The results point to a striking asymmetry. It appears that ascriptions of states involving phenomenal consciousness are sensitive to physical factors in (...) a way that ascriptions of other states are not. (shrink)
In one of the most frequently quoted passages in the history of emotion research, William James (1884: 189f) announces that emotions occur when the perception of an exciting fact causes a collection of bodily changes, and “our feeling of the same changes as they occur IS the emotion.” The same idea occurred to Carl Lange (1984) around the same time. These authors were not the first to draw a link between the emotions and the body. Indeed, this had been a (...) central theme of Descartes’ exquisite opus, The Passions of the Soul. But James and Lange wanted to push things farther than most, suggesting that emotions are exhausted by bodily changes or perceptions thereof. Other kinds of mental episodes might co-occur when we have an emotion state. For James, an emotion follows an exciting perception. But the exciting perception is not a part of the emotion it excited (Ellsworth, 1994, reads James differently, but see Reisenzein et al.’s 1995 convincing response). The majority of contemporary emotion researchers, especially those in philosophy, find this suggestion completely untenable. Surely, emotions involve something more. At their core, emotions are more like judgments or thoughts, than perceptions. They evaluate, assess, or appraise. Emotions are amendable to rational assessment; they report, correctly or incorrectly, on how we are faring in the world. Within this general consensus, there is a further debate about whether the body should figure into a theory of emotions at all. Perhaps James and Lange offer a theory that is not merely incomplete, but entirely off base. Where they view judgments as contingent and non-constitutive concomitants of emotions, it is actually bodily perceptions that deserve this demotion. Perhaps emotions can be, and often are, disembodied in some fundamental sense. (shrink)
There seems to be a large gulf between percepts and concepts. In particular, con- cepts seem to be capable of representing things that percepts cannot. We can conceive of things that would be impossible to perceive. (The converse may also seem true, but I will leave that to one side.) In one respect, this is trivially right. We can conceive of things that we cannot encounter, such as unicorns. We cannot literally perceive unicorns, even if we occasionally.
1. Introduction Consciousness is trendy. It seems that more pages are published on consciousness these days than on any other subject in the philosophy of mind. Embodiment and situated cognition are also trendy. They mark a significant departure from orthodox theories, and are thus appealing to radicals and renegades. It.
Reading the philosophical literature on consciousness, one might get the idea that there is just one problem in consciousness studies, the hard problem. That would be a mistake. There are other problems; some are more tractable, but none are easy, and all interesting. The literature on the hard problem gives the impression that we have made little progress. Consciousness is just an excuse to work and re-work familiar positions on the mind-body problem. But progress is being made elsewhere. Researchers are (...) moving towards increasingly specific accounts of the neural basis of conscious experience. These efforts will leave some questions unanswered, but they are no less significant for that. (shrink)
Alva Noë’s _Action in Perception _offers a provocative and vigorous defense of the thesis that vision is enactive: visual experience depends on dispositional motor responses. On this view, vision and action are inextricably bound. In this review, I argue against enactive perception. I raise objections to seven lines of evidence that appear in Noë’s book, and I indicate some reasons for thinking that vision can operate independently of motor responses. I conclude that the relationship between vision and action is causal, (...) not constitutive. I then address three other contentious hypotheses in the book. Noë argues that visual states are not pictorial; he argues that all perception is conceptual; and he argues that the external world makes a constitutive contribution to experience. I am unpersuaded by these arguments, and I offer reasons to resist Noë’s conclusions. (shrink)
For the past three decades there has been a substantial amount of scientific evidence supporting the view that attention is necessary and sufficient for perceptual representations to become conscious (i.e., for there to be something that it is like to experience a representational perceptual state). This view, however, has been recently questioned on the basis of some alleged counterevidence. In this paper we survey some of the most important recent findings. In so doing, we have two primary goals. The first (...) is descriptive: we provide a literature review for those seeking an understanding of the present debate. The second is editorial: we suggest that the evidence alleging dissociations between consciousness and attention is not decisive. Thus, this is an opinionated overview of the debate. By presenting our assessment, we hope to bring out both sides in the debate and to underscore that the issues here remain matters of intense controversy and ongoing investigation. (shrink)
Recent work in cognitive science provides overwhelming evidence for a link between emotion and moral judgment. I review ?ndings from psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and research on psychopathology and conclude that emotions are not merely correlated with moral judgments but they are also, in some sense, both necessary and suf?cient. I then use these ?ndings along with some anthropological observations to support several philosophical theories: ?rst, I argue that sentimentalism is true: to judge that something is wrong is to have a (...) sentiment of disapprobation towards it. Second, I argue that moral facts are response-dependent: the bad just is that which cases disapprobation in a community of moralizers. Third, I argue that a form of motivational internalism is true: ordinary moral judgments are intrinsically motivating, and all non-motivating moral judgments are parasitic on these. (shrink)
Thus declares Francis Hutcheson, expressing a view widespread during the Enlightenment, and throughout the history of philosophy. According to this tradition, we are by nature moral, and ourS concern for good and evil is as natural to us as our capacity to feel pleasure and pain. The link between morality and human nature has been a common theme since ancient times, and, with the rise of modern empirical moral psychology, it remains equally popular today. Evolutionary ethicists, ethologists, developmental psychologists, social (...) neuroscientists, and even some cultural anthropologists tend to agree that morality is part of the bioprogram (e.g., Cosmides & Tooby, 1992; de Waal, 1996; Haidt & Joseph, 2004; Hauser, 2006; Ruse, 1991; Sober & Wilson, 1998; Turiel, 2002). Recently, researchers have begun to look for moral modules in the brain, and they have been increasingly tempted to speculate about the moral acquisition device, and innate faculty for norm acquisition akin to celebrated language acquisition device, promulgated by Chomsky (Dwyer, 1999; Mikhail, 2000; Hauser, this volume). All this talk of modules and mechanism may make some shudder, especially if they recall that eugenics emerged out of an effort to find the biological sources of evil. Yet the tendency to postulate an innate moral faculty is almost irresistible. For one thing, it makes us appear nobler as a species, and for another, it offers an explanation of the fact that people in every corner of the globe seem to have moral rules. Moral nativism is, in this respect, an optimistic doctrine—one that makes our great big world seem comfortingly smaller. I want to combat this alluring idea. I do not deny that morality is ecumenical, but I think it is not innate—at least that the current state of evidence is unpersuasive. Morality, like all human capacities, depends on having particular biological predispositions, but none of these, I submit, deserves to be called a moral faculty. Morality is a byproduct—accidental or invented—of faculties that evolved for other purposes.. (shrink)
There are two major perspectives on the origin of emotions. According to one, emotions are the products of natural selection. They are evolved adaptations, best understood using the explanatory tools of evolutionary psychology. According to the other, emotions are socially constructed, and they vary across cultural boundaries. There is evidence supporting both perspectives. In light of this, some have argued both approaches are right. The standard strategy for compromise is to say that some emotions are evolved and others are constructed. (...) The evolved emotions are sometimes given the label “basic,” and there is considerable agreement about a handful of emotions in this category. My goal here is to challenge all of these perspectives. I don’t think we should adopt a globally evolutionary approach, nor indulge the radical view that emotions derive entirely from us. I am equally dissatisfied with approaches that attempt to please Darwinians and constructivists by dividing emotions into two separate classes. I will defend another kind of ecumenicalism. Every emotion that we have a name for is the product of both nature and nurture. Emotions are evolved and constructed. The dichotomy between the two approaches cannot be maintained. This thesis will require making some claims that would be regarded as surprising to many emotion researchers. First, while there is a difference between basic emotions and nonbasic emotions, it is not a structural difference. All emotions are fundamentally alike. Second, the standard list of basic emotions, though by many to be universal across cultures, are not basic after all. We don’t have names for the basic emotions. All emotions that we talk about are culturally informed. And finally, this concession to constructivism does not imply that emotions are cognitive in any sense. Emotions are perceptual and embodied. They are gut reactions, and they are not unique to our species.. (shrink)
This paper provides a theory of the nature of symbols in the language of thought (LOT). My discussion consists in three parts. In part one, I provide three arguments for the individuation of primitive symbols in terms of total computational role. The first of these arguments claims that Classicism requires that primitive symbols be typed in this manner; no other theory of typing will suffice. The second argument contends that without this manner of symbol individuation, there will be computational processes (...) that fail to supervene on syntax, together with the rules of composition and the computational algorithms. The third argument says that cognitive science needs a natural kind that is typed by total computational role. Otherwise, either cognitive science will be incomplete, or its laws will have counterexamples. Then, part two defends this view from a criticism, offered by both Jerry Fodor and Jesse Prinz, who respond to my view with the charge that because the types themselves are individuated. (shrink)
The idea that natural languages shape the way we think in different ways was popularized by Benjamin Whorf, but then fell out of favor for lack of empirical support. But now, a new wave of research has been shifting the tide back toward linguistic relativity. The recent research can be interpreted in different ways, some trivial, some implausibly radical, and some both plausible and interesting. We introduce two theses that would have important implications if true: Habitual Whorfianism and Ontological Whorfianism. (...) We argue that these offer the most promising interpretations of the emerging evidence. (shrink)
It is generally agreed that dispositions cannot be analyzed in terms of simple subjunctive conditionals (because of what are called “masked dispositions” and “finkish dispositions”). I here defend a qualified subjunctive account of dispositions according to which an object is disposed to Φ when conditions C obtain if and only if, if conditions C were to obtain, then the object would Φ ceteris paribus . I argue that this account does not fall prey to the objections that have been raised (...) in the literature. (shrink)
Empathy can be characterized as a vicarious emotion that one person experiences when reflecting on the emotion of another. So characterized, empathy is sometimes regarded as a precondition on moral judgment. This seems to have been Hume's view. I review various ways in which empathy might be regarded as a precondition and argue against each of them: empathy is not a component, a necessary cause, a reliable epistemic guide, a foundation for justification, or the motivating force behind our moral judgments. (...) In fact, empathy is prone to biases that render it potentially harmful. Another construct—concern—fares somewhat better, but it is also of limited use. I argue that, instead of empathy, moral judgments involve emotions such as anger, disgust, guilt, and admiration. These, not empathy, provide the sentimental foundation for morality. (shrink)
The emotions were a neglected topic in philosophy twenty or so years ago, but things have now changed. It is now appreciated how important it is to understand the emotions as an independent aspect of our mental economy – one that has to be properly taken into account in any worthwhile philosophising in ethics or moral psychology, in epistemology, in aesthetics, and generally in philosophical issues surrounding value and how the mind engages with value in the world. There is now (...) a wide range of philosophical theories of emotion 'on the market', and whilst this Guide and the related Article are not the place to argue for one or the other of these, anyone working in areas which overlap with emotion research ought to be aware of what these theories are, and ought to consider what the implications of their own views are in order not to be committed to an ultimately untenable account of the emotions, and of their place in our lives. Author Recommends Ronald de Sousa, The Rationality of Emotion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987). This is a classic, full of fascinating insights. Best not read straight through; use it selectively, depending on where your research is going. Robert Solomon, The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1976). Another classic. Solomon was one of the pioneers to resurrect emotion to its rightful place in philosophy. Solomon was greatly influenced by the existentialists, and he argued not only that emotions are rational, but also that we choose our emotions. Since then, Solomon has nuanced his position considerably, but this early work merits close study. Robert Solomon, ed., Thinking about Feeling: Contemporary Philosophers on Emotion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). This collection contains 17 chapters on emotion from contemporary philosophers, plus an Introduction by Solomon. It gives an excellent feeling for the central issues in the current debates. John Deigh, 'Cognitivism in the Theory of Emotions', Ethics 104 (1994): 824–54. Deigh argues for a cognitive theory of the emotions, and considers how such a theory can accommodate emotions in non-human animals and in babies. William James, 'What is an Emotion?', Mind 9 (1884): 188–205. This article, and the related (and later) discussion in his The Principles of Psychology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981, ch. 25), has had an enormous influence on psychologists, and on philosophers who argue for various versions of non-cognitivism in the emotions. It merits reading in the original. Robert Zajonc, 'On the Primacy of Affect', American Psychologist 39 (1984): 117–23. This article, 100 years after James, has also been enormously influential on non-cognitivists. Jesse Prinz, Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Prinz is one of the proponents of non-cognitivism, and the influence of James and Zajonc will be clear. Peter Goldie, 'Emotion', Philosophy Compass 2/6 (2007): 928–38, doi: [DOI link]. My own survey of the current literature. Online Materials: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/emotion/ de Sousa on Emotion in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy: An excellent survey of the current literature. Sample Syllabus: Week 1: Cognitive-rationalist theories of emotion R. Solomon, 'The Rationality of emotions', Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 8 (1977): 105–14. G. Taylor, 'Justifying the Emotions', Mind 84 (1975): 390–402. M. Nussbaum, 'Emotions as Judgements of Value and Importance', in Thinking about Feeling, ed. R. Solomon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 183–99. Week 2: Non-cognitive feeling theories of emotion W. James, 'What is an Emotion?', Mind 9 (1884): 188–205. J. Prinz, 'Embodied Appraisals', in Thinking about Feeling, ed. R. Solomon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 44–60. Week 3: Perceptual and sui generis theories of emotion Robert Roberts, Emotion: An Aid in Moral Psychology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), ch. 2, sections 2.1–2.4. Ronald de Sousa, The Rationality of Emotion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), ch. 6. Peter Goldie, The Emotions: A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), ch. 3. Week 4: Expression of emotion Michael Smith, 'The Humean Theory of Motivation', Mind 96 (1987): 36–61. Rosalind Hursthouse, 'Arational Actions', Journal of Philosophy 88 (1991): 57–68. Peter Goldie, The Emotions: A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), ch. 5. Week 5: Emotional sincerity and authenticity Mikko Salmela, "What is Emotional Authenticity?", Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 35.3 (2005): 209–39. David Pugmire, Sound Sentiments (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), ch. 2 and 7 especially. Week 6: Morality and the emotions A. J. Ayer, 'Critique of Ethics and Theology', Language, Truth and Logic (London: Penguin, 1936), chapter VI. Bernard Williams, 'Morality and the Emotions', Problems of the Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 207–229. Simon Blackburn, Spreading the Word (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), chapter 6. Focus Questions1. What element of truth is there in the idea that emotions are judgements? How can such a theory allow for the possibility of conflict between emotion and judgement?2. James argues that feelings are essential to emotion: no feeling, then no emotion. How does a non-cognitive theory of emotion seek to account for this, and is such a theory the only way of doing so?3. Roberts argues that emotions are a kind of perception (a concern-based construal); de Sousa argues rather that there is only an analogy between emotion and perception and that emotion is an irreducible psychological category; Goldie argues that emotional feelings are sui generis'feelings towards'. How might one decide which of these more accurately captures the nature of emotion?4. Hursthouse argues that our expressions of emotion (kicking the chair in anger for example) are arational. What are her arguments for this, and are they sound?5. We often speak of someone's anger, for example, as not being sincere, or of her generosity as not being authentic. What do these claims mean, and how are the notions of sincerity and authenticity of emotion related conceptually?6. What is the role of emotion in our moral thought and talk? (shrink)
In this chapter, I outline and defend a version of concept empiricism. The theory has four central tenets: Concepts represent categories by reliable causal relations to category instances; conceptual representations of category vary from occasion to occasion; these representations are perceptually based; and these representations are all learned, not innate. The last two tenets on this list have been central to empiricism historically, and the first two have been developed in more recent years. I look at each in turn, and (...) then I discuss the most obvious objection to empiricism. According to that objection, some concepts cannot be perceptually based because they represent things that are abstract, and hence unperceivable. I discuss two standard examples: democracy and moral badness. I argue that both can be explained using resources available to the empiricist. (shrink)
With the rapid recent growth of naturalized metaethics, Richard Joyce’s paper sounds an appropriate cautionary note. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by sexy new data and to neglect the difficulties in using the data to draw major philosophical conclusions. One of the central views in the sights of naturalists has been moral rationalism. Jonathan Haidt (2001), Joshua Greene (this volume), Jesse Prinz (forthcoming), and I (2002, 2004b) have all used recent empirical findings to challenge moral rationalist views. Although Joyce (...) is not himself a moral rationalist (see Joyce 2002), he deftly works to beat back our attacks on moral rationalism. Here my goal is to uphold the view that empirical work can challenge moral rationalism in the aftermath of Joyce’s insightful discussion. (shrink)
This text addresses a problem that is not sufficiently dealt with in most of the recent literature on emotion and feeling. The problem is a general underestimation of the extent to which affective intentionality is essentially bodily. Affective intentionality is the sui generis type of world-directedness that most affective states – most clearly the emotions – display. Many theorists of emotion overlook the extent to which intentional feelings are essentially bodily feelings. The important but quite often overlooked fact is that (...) the bodily feelings in question are not the regularly treated, non-intentional bodily sensations (known from Jamesian accounts of emotion), but rather crucial carriers of world-directed intentionality. Consequently, most theories of human emotions and feelings recently advocated are deficient in terms of phenomenological adequacy. This text tries to make up for this deficit and develops a catalogue of five central features of intentional bodily feelings. In addition, Jesse Prinz’s embodied appraisal theory is criticized as an exemplary case of the misconstrual of the bodily nature of affective experience in naturalistic philosophy of mind. (shrink)
It is one thing to have phenomenal states and another thing to think about phenomenal states. Thinking about phenomenal states gives us knowledge that we have them and knowledge of what they are like. But how do we think about phenomenal states? These days, the most popular answer is that we use phenomenal concepts. Phenomenal concepts are presumed to be concepts that represent phenomenal states in a special, intrinsically phenomenal, way. The special nature of phenomenal concepts is said to be (...) important for defending materialism against epistemic arguments for dualism. In this paper I present an account of phenomenal knowledge that does not depend on phenomenal concepts. In fact, I argue that we have no phenomenal concepts. Instead my account appeals to mental pointing, a process that I explain in terms of phenomenal demonstratives. Phenomenal demonstratives are sometimes referred to as concepts in the literature, but I suggest that this is a mistake. I also present a theory of phenomenal demonstratives that equates them with attentional control structures in working memory. In a concluding section I describe how this theory can be used to defuse the knowledge argument for dualism. That is only a subsidiary goal, and my response to the knowledge argument echoes others in the literature. I think the project of developing a substantive, empirically informed theory of phenomenal knowledge has interest independent of debates about mental ontology. That is my central focus. Thinking about phenomenal knowledge can shed light on the relationship between consciousness, attention and memory. This paper has a philosophical agenda and an empirical agenda. Those who reject my philosophical claims about the nonexistence of phenomenal concepts, the conditions.. (shrink)
Intuitively, some films qualify as artworks and others do not. Few would deny that Un Chien Andalou qualifies as art, while many would feel little temptation to apply this honorific to the average Hollywood blockbuster, television melodrama, or sleazy porn flick. But what marks the boundary? When is film art? Some might restrict the label to avant garde cinema, European art house films, and video installations, while others are inclined to expand the category to include films intended for wide audiences, (...) including Anthony Mann’s noirs, Sergio Leone’s westerns, and Mario Bava’s masterworks of low- brow horror. Some have even suggested that the art/non-art boundary does not exist. All film is art, though some of it is better art or higher art. How, if at all, should be draw the line? This, it turns out, is not just a question for those with a special interest in film. It has interest for aesthetic theory more broadly, because film can serve as a test case for definitions of art. Some theories of art seem too restrictive, because they prevent us from classifying certain films that are aesthetic masterpieces into the category of art. (shrink)
Concepts are the constituents of thoughts. Therefore, concepts are vital to any theory of cognition. However, despite their widely accepted importance, there is little consensus about the nature and origin of concepts. Thanks to the work of Lawrence Barsalou, Jesse Prinz and others concept empiricism has been gaining momentum within the philosophy and psychology literature. Concept empiricism maintains that all concepts are copies, or combinations of copies, of perceptual representations—that is, all concepts are couched in the codes of perceptual (...) representation systems. It is widely agreed that any satisfactory theory of concepts must account for how concepts semantically compose (the compositionality requirement) and explain how their intentional content is determined (the content determination requirement). In this paper, I argue that concept empiricism has serious problems satisfying these two requirements. Therefore, although stored perceptual representations may facilitate some traditionally conceptual tasks, concepts should not be identified with copies of perceptual representations. (shrink)
We consider and reject a variety of attempts to provide a ground for identifying and differentiating disembodied minds. Until such a ground is provided, we must withhold inclusion of disembodied minds from our picture of the world.
The assumption that the concept of phenomenal consciousness is pretheoretical is often found in the philosophical debates on consciousness. Unfortunately, this assumption has not received the kind of empirical attention that it deserves. We suspect that this is in part due to difficulties that arise in attempting to test folk intuitions about consciousness. In this article we elucidate and defend a key methodological principle for this work. We draw this principle out by considering recent experimental work on the topic by (...) Joshua Knobe and Jesse Prinz (2008). We charge that their studies do not establish that the folk have a concept of phenomenal consciousness in part because they compare group agents to individuals . The problem is that group agents and individuals differ in some significant ways in terms of functional organization and behavior. We propose that future experiments should establish that ordinary people are disposed to ascribe different mental states to entities that are given behaviorally and functionally equivalent descriptions. (shrink)
Daniel and Frances Howard-Snyder suggest that it is possible for an omnipotent being, Jove, to create randomly a world from a continuum of ever more perfect possible worlds. They then go on to argue that Jove could be characterized as morally unsurpassable despite creating a surpassable world. I raise a number of problems for the view that Jove could be characterized as morally unsurpassable when he creates (randomly or not) a surpassable world.
This paper develops an empirically motivated theory of visual consciousness. It begins by outlining neuropsychological support for Jackendoff's (1987) hypothesis that visual consciousness involves mental representations at an intermediate level of processing. It then supplements that hypothesis with the further requirement that attention, which can come under the direction of high level representations, is also necessary for consciousness. The resulting theory is shown to have a number of philosophical consequences. If correct, higher-order thought accounts, the multiple drafts account, and the (...) widely held belief that sensation precedes perception will all be found wanting. The theory will also be used to illustrate and defend a methodology that fills the gulf between functionalists who ignore the brain and neural reductionists who repudiate functionalism. (shrink)
 We all know that language is vague. The majority of our terms admit borderline cases. We are notoriously unable to resolve the precise number grains required for a portion of sand to fall under the predicate "heap". It might be supposed that blurry boundaries are, at bottom, an ontological phenomenon. Perhaps the indeterminacy of our predicates is inherited from the indeterminacy of the properties they denote. Perhaps objects can also by vague, rendering singularly terms, including proper names, uncomfortably imprecise. (...) This thesis has been dismissed, challenged, and championed by various philosophers over the course of the century. Undoubtedly the most widely discussed objection to vague ontology comes in the form of a one-page argument devised by Gareth Evans (1978). Although other arguments against vague objects have been proposed,1 Evans' argument has occupied center stage, clarifying and provoking debate. Its impact reconfirms the value of Evans' philosophical legacy. (shrink)
Numerous examples have been offered that purportedly show that God cannot be omnipotent. I argue that a common response to such examples (i.e., that failure to do the impossible does not indicate a lack of power) does not preserve God’s omnipotence in the face of some of these examples. I consider another possible strategy for preserving God’s omnipotence in the face of these examples and find it wanting.
In this commentary, I focus on Machery's criticism of Neo-Empiricism. I argue that Neo-Empiricism can survive Machery's critique, and I show that there is an empiricist strategy for forestalling eliminativism.
I argue that there is a continuum of judgments ranging from those that are affectively rich, what might be called passionate judgments, to those that are purely cognitive and nonaffective, what might be called dispassionate judgments. The former are akin to desires and other affective states and so are necessarily motivating. Applying this schema to moral judgments, I maintain that the motivational internalist is wrong in claiming that all moral judgments are necessarily motivating, but right in regard to the subset (...) of passionate moral judgments. This picture of moral judgments has implications for related debates in metaethics between cognitivists and non-cognitivists and between Humeans and anti-Humeans. (shrink)
Beginning in the late 1960s, psychologists began to challenge the view the definitional theory of concepts. According to that theory a concept is a mental representation comprising representations of properties (or “features”) that are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for membership in a category. In place of the definitional view, psychologists initially put forward the prototype theory of concept, according to which concepts comprise representations of features that are typical, salient, and diagnostic for category membership, but not necessarily necessary. The (...) prototype theory gained considerable support in the 1970s, but came under attack in the 1980s. One objection, most forcefully advanced by Jerry Fodor, is that prototypes do not combine compositionally. Compositionality is said to be an adequacy condition on a theory of concepts. If prototypes don’t compose, then prototypes are not concepts. Or so the argument goes. (shrink)
The present article examines how people’s belief in an afterlife, as well as closely related supernatural beliefs, may open an empirical backdoor to our understanding of the evolution of human social cognition. Recent ﬁndings and logic from the cognitive sciences contribute to a novel theory of existential psychology, one that is grounded in the tenets of Darwinian natural selection. Many of the predominant questions of existential psychology strike at the heart of cognitive science. They involve: causal attribution (why is mortal (...) behavior represented as being causally related to one’s afterlife? how are dead agents envisaged as communicating messages to the living?), moral judgment (why are certain social behaviors, i.e., transgressions, believed to have ultimate repercussions after death or to reap the punishment of disgruntled ancestors?), theory of mind (how can we know what it is “like” to be dead? what social-cognitive strategies do people use to reason about the minds of the dead?), concept acquisition (how does a common-sense dualism interact with a formalized socio-religious indoctrination in childhood? how are supernatural properties of the dead conceptualized by young minds?), and teleological reasoning (why do people so often see their lives as being designed for a purpose that must be accomplished before they perish? how do various life events affect people’s interpretation of this purpose?), among others. The central thesis of the present article is that an organized cognitive “system” dedicated to forming illusory representations of (1) psychological immortality, (2) the intelligent design of the self, and (3) the symbolic meaning of natural events evolved in response to the unique selective pressures of the human social environment. (shrink)
In this essay I first provide an analysis of various community concepts. Second, I evaluate two of the most serious challenges to the existence of communities—gradient and paleoecological analysis respectively—arguing that, properly understood, neither threatens the existence of communities construed interactively. Finally, I apply the same interactive approach to ecosystem ecology, arguing that ecosystems may exist robustly as well. ‡I would like to thank to the participants at the Ecology and Environmental Ethics Conference at the University of Utah, the Philosophy (...) of Ecology Conference hosted by the University of Brisbane, and those participants in a session at the Philosophy of Science Association Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia for helpful discussions of this essay. Specific thanks go to Mark Colyvan, Greg Cooper, Steve Downes, Chris Elliott, Marc Ereshefsky, Paul Griffiths, Jesse Hendrikse, Greg Mikkelson, Anya Plutynski, Kate Ritchie, Sahotra Sarkar, Kim Sterelny, and Rob Wilson. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Lewis and Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, Portland, OR 97219; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Margaret Egan and Jesse Hauk Shera's original conception of social epistemology has never been defined unambiguously, or developed significantly beyond its early formulation. An interesting consequence of this lack of conceptual clarity has been the application of several interpretations of social epistemology. This article discusses how social epistemology was linked with the ideology of apartheid, and with racially segregated library and information services in the Republic of South Africa. In a fraudulent scientific vision for librarianship, social epistemology was assigned (...) a role that violated its original purpose. The intellectual content of social epistemology needs to be articulated in order to prevent further examples of such conceptual abuse. The paper ends with an attempt to do this with some suggestions based on Shera's own seminal ideas. (shrink)
Fertile grounds for theoretical inquiry can be found in the oddest corners. Contemporary television programming provides viewers with several talk shows of the grotesque, as I will call them, in which the aim of each episode is to put some monstrous human phenomenon on display with the help of a host and a participating studio audience. In this paper I will try to support the unlikely claim that these talk shows, which include The Jerry Springer Show and Sally Jesse (...) Raphael (among others), provide remarkably fruitful foci for theoretical attention. My plan is to give a reading of the ideological structure of talk shows of the grotesque. In particular, my interest lies in a relatively recent strand of ideological theory that has treated questions concerning the nature and reproduction of ideology as serious ontological questions: questions that go to the heart of our philosophical understanding of subjectivity, autonomy, and the metaphysics of belief and other intentional attitudes. Here I take the work of Louis Althusser, Judith Butler, and Slavoj i ek as paradigmatic and seminal representatives of this type of theorizing. My eye, in this paper, will be turned toward showing how the contemporary talk show of the grotesque provides us with a case study through which we can productively interrogate this new theoretical turn in our understanding of ideology. After spending a substantial amount of time laying down some theoretical groundwork, during which I take a selective and usurious tour through recent theories of ideology, performativity, and the constitution of subjectivity, I will analyze the talk show phenomenon by dividing it into four levels of participatory activity: those of the host, the guests, the studio audience, and the television audience. I will argue.. (shrink)
In Enchanted Looms , Rodney Cotterill defends the hypothesisthat conscious sensory experience depends on motor response. Thepositive evidence for this hypothesis is inconclusive, andnegative evidence can be marshaled against it. I present analternative hypothesis according to which consciousness involvesintermediate level sensory processing, attention, and workingmemory. The circuitry of consciousness can be dissociated fromaction systems and may mark an evolutionary advance from a priorphylogenetic stage in which motor outputs and sensory inputswere more intimately bound.
Leibniz argued that God would not create a world unless it was the best possible world. I defend Leibniz’s argument. I then consider whether God could refrain from creating if there were no best possible world. I argue that God, on pain of contradiction, could not refrain from creating in such a situation. I conclude that either this is the best possible world or God is not our creator.