Emotional Actions Without Goals

Erkenntnis:1-31 (forthcoming)

Authors
Isaac Wiegman
Texas State University
Abstract
Recent accounts of emotional action intend to explain such actions without reference to goals. Nevertheless, these accounts fail to specify the difference between goals and other kinds of motivational states. I offer two remedies. First, I develop an account of goals based on Michael Smith’s arguments for the Humean theory of motivation. On this account, a goal is a unified representation that determines behavior selection criteria and satisfaction conditions for an action. This opens the possibility that mental processes could influence behavior without such a unified representation and hence, without goals. Second, I develop a model of emotions and appetites on which behavior selection criteria can be decoupled from satisfaction conditions. If this model is correct, then in many cases, there is no unified representation that determines the behavior selection criteria and satisfaction conditions of emotional actions. In contrast with many traditional accounts of action, the model suggests the following: Whether or not a behavior constitutes an action does not depend on the agent’s grasp of the behavior’s aim. Rather, a behavior constitutes an action if it was organized by the agent, where an agent can organize actions without a coherent grasp of their aim. Some emotional actions are manifestations of this possibility.
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-019-00200-8
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