In this adventurous contribution to the project of combining philosophy and biology to understand the mind, Carolyn Price investigates what it means to say that mental states--like thoughts, wishes, and perceptual experiences--are about things in the natural world. Her insight into this deep philosophical problem offers a novel teleological account of intentional content, grounded in and shaped by a carefully constructed theory of functions. Along the way she defends her view from recent objections to teleological theories and indicates how it (...) might be applied to notable problems in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Should moods be regarded as intentional states, and, if so, what kind of intentional content do they have? I focus on irritability and apprehension, which I examine from the perspective of a teleosemantic theory of content. Eric Lormand has argued that moods are non-intentional states, distinct from emotions; Robert Solomon and Peter Goldie argue that moods are generalised emotions and that they have intentional content of a correspondingly general kind. I present a third model, on which moods are regarded, not (...) as generalised emotions, but as states of vigilance; and I argue that, on this model, moods should be regarded as intentional states of a kind quite distinct from emotions. An advantage of this account is that it allows us to distinguish between a mood of apprehension and an episode of objectless fear. (shrink)
Donald Gustafson has argued that grief centres on a combination of belief and desire: The belief that the subject has suffered an irreparable loss. The desire that this should not be the case. And yet, as Gustafson points out, if the belief is true, the desire cannot be satisfied. Gustafson takes this to show that grief inevitably implies an irrational conflict between belief and desire. I offer a partial defence of grief against Gustafson's charge of irrationality. My defence rests on (...) two elements. First, I offer an alternative model of emotion, which presents emotions as complex episodes, initiated by emotional appraisals. Secondly, I appeal to John Bowlby's account of grief to argue that grief involves two forms of sadness (anguish and desolation) which Gustafson's analysis runs together. I concede that anguish does characteristically involve an element of irrationality. But the irrationality of anguish does not arise from an apparently gratuitous clash between belief and desire, but from a conflict between emotion and belief?a form of irrationality that is both familiar and easily explained. Moreover, desolation need not involve any irrationality. (shrink)
Emotion is at the centre of our personal and social lives. To love or to hate, to be frightened or grateful is not just a matter of how we feel on the inside: our emotional responses direct our thoughts and actions, unleash our imaginations, and structure our relationships with others. Yet the role of emotion in human life has long been disputed. Is emotion reason?s friend or its foe? From where do the emotions really arise? Why do we need them (...) at all? In this accessible and carefully argued introduction, Carolyn Price focuses on some central questions about the nature and function of emotion. She explores the ways in which emotion contrasts with belief and considers how our emotional responses relate to our values, our likes and our needs. And she investigates some of the different ways in which emotional responses can be judged as fitting or misplaced, rational or irrational, authentic or inauthentic, sentimental or profound. Throughout, she develops a particular view of emotion as a complex and diverse phenomenon, which reflects both our common evolutionary past and our different cultural and personal histories. Engagingly written with lots of examples to illuminate our understanding, this book provides the ideal introduction to the topic for students and scholars and anyone interested in delving further into the intricate web of human emotion. (shrink)
Abstract Why should we love the people we do and why does love motivate us to act as it does? In this paper, I explore the idea that these questions can be answered by appealing to the idea that love has to do with close personal relationships (the relationship claim). Niko Kolodny (2003) has already developed a relationship theory of love: according to Kolodny, love centres on the belief that the subject shares a valuable personal relationship with the beloved. However, (...) this account has some implausible consequences. I shall develop an alternative account, discarding the assumption that love centres on a belief, and beginning instead from a conception of love as an emotional attitude, which, I suggest, involves a form of evaluation that is not belief. As I explain, adopting this view allows us to interpret the relationship claim, not as a claim about the subject?s beliefs, but as a claim about the function of love. This approach allows us to answer the questions above, while avoiding the difficulties that confront Kolodny's account. I end by exploring a case that might be thought to raise some difficulties for my account. (shrink)
What is the difference between an emotional appraisal and a dispassionate judgement? It has been suggested that emotional appraisals are states of a special kind that play a distinctive role in our psychology; it has also been suggested that emotional appraisals have a distinctive kind of content. In this paper, I explore the links between the function and content of an emotional appraisal, making use of a teleosemantic account of intentional content that I have developed elsewhere.
This essay reviews a collection of thirteen critical essays on the work of Ruth Millikan. The collection covers a broad range of her work, focusing in particular on her account of simple intentionality, her theory of concepts and her metaphysical views. I highlight and briefly discuss three issues that crop up repeatedly though the collection: (1) Millikan’s externalism (and in particular, her emphasis on how intentional states are used, rather than how they are produced); (2) the nature of intentional explanation; (...) and (3) the normativity of meaning. (shrink)
In this paper, I try to develop an account of functions which might be of use to a biologist engaged in classifying and explaining natural phenomena. The most pressing difficulty facing such an account is the need to reconcile the normativity of function statements with their explanatory force. I consider two familiar accounts of function statements, offered by Andrew Woodfield and Larry Wright . I examine both accounts in search of the strongest possible formulation of each type of theory. I (...) fail to find a formulation of the ACT which is completely immune from counterexamples, but I do find a satisfactory formulation of the HT. In particular, I argue that the HT should incorporate a point central to the ACT that functions involve a means/end relationship between two devices. I then consider functional explanations: I argue that an ACT which holds that function statements are intrinsically explanatory cannot offer a satisfactory account. The account offered by Woodfield, who rejects this assumption, is adequate, though less attractive than the account suggested by the HT. I conclude by considering how the HT can account for functional norms. (shrink)
Regret is a slippery phenomenon. Fundamental questions about its fittingness conditions and functions have yet to be settled. Here, I offer a diagnosis of regret’s slippery character. Extending a suggestion made by Daniel Kahneman, I argue that regret comes in a range of emotional flavours, distinguished in the first instance by their phenomenology. While regret has received some attention from philosophers, its varied phenomenology has not been investigated. Yet the varied phenomenology of regret is significant: it reflects further variations in (...) its cognitive and motivational effects. As a result, I argue, different flavours of regret have different fittingness conditions and contribute to our lives in different ways. In Section I, I offer a preliminary sketch of regret and introduce the questions that drive my discussion. In Section II, I introduce regret’s different flavours. In Section III, I investigate their contrasting cognitive and motivational effects, with a view to determining their functions. In Section IV, I investigate what this implies concerning regret’s fittingness conditions—and, in particular, what constitutes a regrettable action. (shrink)
What does it mean to say that an emotional response fits the situation? This question cannot be answered simply by specifying the core relational theme (loss or risk, say) associated with each emotion: we must also explain what constitutes an emotionally significant loss or risk. It is sometimes suggested that emotionally significant situations are those that bear on the subject’s interests or concerns. I accept that this claim is plausible for some emotional responses, and I propose a particular way of (...) interpreting it. I suggest that, for many emotions, emotional significance is determined by the subject’s likes and dislikes – that is, settled dispositions to find a certain situation pleasant or distressing. I contrast this account with other preference-based accounts and with an account that appeals to the subject’s interests. I argue that we should prefer the likes-based account to these rival views. (shrink)
Compassion is widely regarded as an important moral emotion – a fitting response to various cases of suffering and misfortune. Yet contemporary theorists have rarely given it sustained attention. This volume aims to fill this gap by offering answers to a number of questions surrounding this emotion.
This article considers a central question in the philosophy of emotion: what is an emotion? This is a highly controversial question, which has attracted numerous answers. I argue that a good answer to this question may prove very hard to find. The difficulty, I suggest, can be traced back to three features of emotional phenomena: their diversity, their complexity and their coherence. I end by suggesting that we should not be disturbed by this result, as we do not need to (...) know what an instance of emotion is in order to investigate the topic of emotion. (shrink)
A historical theory of rational norms claims that, if we are supposed to think rationally, this is because it is biologically normal for us to do so. The historical theorist is committed to the view that we are supposed to think rationally only if, in the past, adult humans sometimes thought rationally. I consider whether there is any plausible model of rational norms that can be adopted by the historical theorist that is compatible with the claim that adult human beings (...) are subject to rational norms, given certain plausible empirical assumptions about our history and capabilities. I suggest that there is one such model: this model centres on the idea that a procedure is rational if it has been endorsed (or at least not rejected) by mechanisms that have the function to ensure that the subject learns to reason in a way that approaches a certain kind of optimality. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider the objection, raised by Radu Bogdan, that a teleological theory of content is unable to ascribe content to a general-purpose, doxastic system. I begin by giving some attention to the notion of general-purpose representation, and suggest that this notion can best be understood as what I term "interest-independent" representation. I then outline Bogdan's objection in what I take to be its simplest form. I attempt to counter the objection by explaining how a teleologist might ascribe (...) content in a particular case - the case of a perceptual judgement whose content is learned. I reject the idea that the teleologist can appeal to the way in which the subject has used the judgement, or its constituent concepts, in the past, on the grounds that it is possible for the subject to produce judgements and concepts that never help her to satisfy any of her interests. Instead, my account depends on the idea that the process of learning is regulated by a mechanism whose function is to produce a harmony between the information carried by perceptual judgements and the way in which they are used in inference. (shrink)