Emotion, Intentionality and Appropriateness of Emotion: In Defense of a Response Dependence Theory

Sunny Yang
Seoul National University
In explaining emotion, there are strong cognitive views, which reduce emotion to belief/thought or judgment. Misgivings about assimilating emotion to belief/thought/judgment have been a main reason for moving towards perceptual accounts for many authors. My aim in this paper is to defend a perceptual theory. To this end, I first argue against a crude version of cognitivism that views emotion essentially in terms of thought or belief. I then argue that doubts about the assimilation of emotion to belief explain the appeal of ‘perception’ as the ‘cognitive element’ most appropriate to the analysis of emotion. Then I shall discuss why perception is the right category to fit emotional responses into by contrasting some considerations adduced by Sabine Döring and by Jesse Prinz. I shall show that Prinz ignores the perspective aspect of perception, while Döring fails to explain the indiscriminability in perceptual experience. For these reasons, both Prinz’s and Döring’s views are insufficient to explain emotional recalcitrance or unmerited emotional response. To explain emotional recalcitrance, I argue that we must appeal to a disjunctivist theory of visual experience. I shall demonstrate why we should prefer the explanation in terms of indiscriminability over one which appeals to a common element, such as a thought or representation of something as dangerous, for example. The present critical examination will afford an alternative view of the appropriateness of emotions
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