Philosophical Studies

, Volume 169, Issue 3, pp 447–466 | Cite as

Being moved

  • Florian CovaEmail author
  • Julien A. Deonna


In this paper, we argue that, barring a few important exceptions, the phenomenon we refer to using the expression “being moved” is a distinct type of emotion. In this paper’s first section, we motivate this hypothesis by reflecting on our linguistic use of this expression. In section two, pursuing a methodology that is both conceptual and empirical, we try to show that the phenomenon satisfies the five most commonly used criteria in philosophy and psychology for thinking that some affective episode is a distinct emotion. Indeed, being moved, we claim, is the experience of a positive core value (particular object) perceived by the moved subject as standing out (formal object) in the circumstances triggering the emotion. Drawing on numerous examples, we describe the distinctively rich phenomenology characteristic of the experience as well as the far-reaching action-tendencies and functions associated with it. Having thus shown that the candidate emotion seem to satisfy the five criteria, we go on, in section three, to compare it with sadness and joy, arguing that it should not be confused with either. Finally, in section four, we illustrate the explanatory power of our account of “being moved” by showing how it can shed light on, and maybe even justify, the widespread distrust we feel towards the exhibition of ‘sentimentality’. On the whole and if we are right, we have uncovered an emotion which, though never or rarely talked about, is of great interest and no small importance.


Being moved Emotions Sentimentality Values 



For their comments and suggestions on previous versions of the present paper, or help in its preparation, we would like to thank Constant Bonard, Otto Bruun, Tom Cochrane, Emma Dayer-Tieffenbach, Amanda Garcia, Jerrold Levinson, Patrizia Lombardo, Olivier Massin, Clare MacCumhail, Winfried Menninghaus, Agnes Moors, Kevin Mulligan, Hichem Naar, Isabelle Pitteloud, Vanessa Sennwald, Cristina Soriano, Fabrice Teroni, two anonymous reviewers, and the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swiss Centre for Affective SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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