Reasons and Theories of Sensory Affect

In David Bain, Michael Brady & Jennifer Corns (eds.), The Philosophy of Pain: Unpleasantness, Emotion, and Deviance. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 27-59 (2019)
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Abstract

Some sensory experiences are pleasant, some unpleasant. This is a truism. But understanding what makes these experiences pleasant and unpleasant is not an easy job. Various difficulties and puzzles arise as soon as we start theorizing. There are various philosophical theories on offer that seem to give different accounts for the positive or negative affective valences of sensory experiences. In this paper, we will look at the current state of art in the philosophy of mind, present the main contenders, critically compare and contrast them. In particular, we want to examine how they handle the reason-giving power of affective states. We will look into two representationalist proposals (Evaluativism and Imperativism) and a functionalist proposal, and argue that, contrary to their own advertisements, the representationalist proposals don’t have good accounts of why and how sensory affect can motivate, rationalize, and justify subsequent behavior and intentional mental activity. We will show that our own functionalist proposal does a much better job in this regard, and that when the representationalist proposals are modified to do a better job, they fare better not because of their representationalist credentials but due to their functionalist ones.

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Author Profiles

Murat Aydede
University of British Columbia
Matthew Fulkerson
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

Pain.Murat Aydede - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The World According to Suffering.Antti Kauppinen - 2020 - In Michael S. Brady, David Bain & Jennifer Corns (eds.), The Philosophy of Suffering. London: Routledge.
Recent Work on Pain.Jennifer Corns - 2018 - Analysis 78 (4):737-753.

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