Shared emotions

Philosophical Explorations 15 (1):33-46 (2012)

Abstract
Existing scientific concepts of group or shared or collective emotion fail to appreciate several elements of collectivity in such emotions. Moreover, the idea of shared emotions is threatened by the individualism of emotions that comes in three forms: ontological, epistemological, and physical. The problem is whether or not we can provide a plausible account of ?straightforwardly shared? emotions without compromising our intuitions about the individualism of emotions. I discuss two philosophical accounts of shared emotions that explain the collectivity of emotions in terms of their intentional structure: Margaret Gilbert's plural subject account, and Hans Bernhard Schmid's phenomenological account. I argue that Gilbert's view fails because it relegates affective experience into a contingent role in emotions and because a joint commitment to feel amounts to the creation of a feeling rule rather than to an emotion. The problems with Schmid's view are twofold: first, a phenomenological fusion of feelings is not necessary for shared emotions and second, Schmid is not sensitive enough to different forms of shared concerns. I then outline my own typology that distinguishes between weakly, moderately, and strongly shared emotions on the basis of the participants? shared concerns of different degree of collectivity, on the one hand, and the synchronization of their emotional responses, on the other hand. All kind of shared emotions in my typology are consistent with the individualism of emotions, while the question about ?straightforward sharing? is argued to be of secondary importance
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DOI 10.1080/13869795.2012.647355
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