Emotion, Action, and Intentionality

Dissertation, Indiana University (1999)

Craig DeLancey
State University of New York at Oswego
The thesis defends the view that there are basic emotions---pancultural emotions that can be, but are not necessarily, propositional attitudes---and endorses a version of the affect program theory of emotions, augmented with a special stress upon the relation of emotions to motor capabilities and strategies. After developing a taxonomy of affects, I argue against the reduction of emotions to other mental states like belief, desire, or judgment. I then discuss how affects relate to belief. First, I consider the claims of social constructionists about emotion, and argue that only a weakened version of this view is tenable. Second, I consider the issue of emoting for fictions, and argue this common occurrence is incompatible with a number of cognitivist theories of emotion. Both of these discussions suggest that a better theory of the relation of emotion to propositional contents is weak content cognitivism, the view that basic emotions can have propositional contents which need not be believed. In conclusion, I consider the relation between basic emotions and intentionality. I argue that basic emotions are object-directed, and that this kind of intentionality can be explained by way of considering basic emotions as actions. This allows me to describe how basic emotions relate to rationality, and offer a special consideration of the kind of ethical internalism that a naturalist theory of basic emotions supports
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