Philosophia

pp 1–20

How Emotions do not Provide Reasons to Act

Article
  • 9 Downloads

Abstract

If emotions provide reasons for action through their intentional content, as is often argued, where does this leave the role of the affective element of an emotion? Can it be more than a motivator and have significant bearing of its own on our emotional actions, as actions done for reasons? One way it can is through reinforcing other reasons that we might have, as Greenspan (2011) argues. Central to Greenspan’s account is the claim that the affective discomfort of an emotion, as a fact about the agent’s state of being, provides an additional normative reason to act to alleviate the state. This, I argue, is not correct, nor is it the best way to understand emotions as reason-reinforcers. In this paper, I thus do two things: I provide an examination of how and why the affect of emotion could provide reasons to act to alleviate it and I propose that the real way emotions reinforce reasons is through the way they orient our attention onto things that matter, registering them as salient.

Keywords

Emotions Practical reasons Affect Affective discomfort Greenspan 

References

  1. Alvarez, M. (2010). Kinds of Reasons: An Essay in the Philosophy of Action. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anscombe, G. E. M. (1957). Intention. Oxford: Oxford Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  3. Armstrong, D. (1962). Bodily Sensations. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  4. Arpaly, N. (2002). On acting rationally against one’s best judgment. In Unprincipled Virtue: An Inquiry Into Moral Agency (pp. 33–65). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aydede, M. (2013). Pain. In E. Zalta (Ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring ed.). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2013/entries/pain/.
  6. Bain, D. (2013). What makes pains unpleasant? Philosophical Studies, 166, S69–S89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bain, D. (2014). Pains that don’t hurt. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 92, 305–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ben-Ze’ev, A. (2000). The Subtlety of Emotion. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Brady, M. (2013). Emotional Insight: The Epistemic Role of Emotional Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Castelfranchi, C., & Miceli, M. (2009). The cognitive-motivational compound of emotional experience. Emotion Review, 1, 223–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Charland, L. C. (2005). The heat of emotion valence and the demarcation problem. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 12, 82–102.Google Scholar
  12. Clore, G. (1994). Why emotions are felt. In P. Ekman & R. Davidson (Eds.), The Nature of Emotion (pp. 103–111). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cohen, J., & Fulkerson, M. (2014). Affect, rationalization, and motivation. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 5, 103–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Colombetti, G. (2005). Appraising valence. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 12, 103–126.Google Scholar
  15. Dancy, J. (2004). Enticing reasons. In R. J. Wallace, S. Scheffler, & M. Smith (Eds.), Reason and Value: Themes From the Moral Philosophy of Joseph Raz (pp. 91–118). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  16. De Sousa, R. (1987). The Rationality of Emotion. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. Deonna, J. A., & Teroni, F. (2012). The Emotions: A Philosophical Introduction. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Döring, S. (2007). Seeing what to do: Affective perception and rational motivation. Dialectica, 61, 363–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Elgin, C. (2008). Emotion and understanding. In G. Brun, U. Doguoglu, & D. Kuenzle (Eds.), Epistemology and Emotions (pp. 33–50). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  20. Faucher, L., & Tappolet, C. (2002). Fear and the focus of attention. Consciousness and Emotion, 3, 105–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Frijda, N. (1986). The Emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Gert, J. (2004). Brute Rationality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goldie, P. (2000). The Emotions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Greenspan, P. (1988). Emotions and Reasons: An Inquiry into Emotional Justification. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Greenspan, P. (2005). Asymmetrical practical reasons. In M. E. Reicher & J. C. Marek (Eds.), Experience and Analysis: Papers of the 27th Wittgenstein Symposium (pp. 387–394). Vienna: HPT&öBV.Google Scholar
  26. Greenspan, P. (2007). Practical reasons and moral ‘ought’. In R. Schafer-Landau (Ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics (Vol. 2, pp. 172–194). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  27. Greenspan, P. (2010). Making room for options: Moral reasons, imperfect duties, and choice. Social Philosophy and Policy, 27, 181–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Greenspan, P. (2011). Craving the right: Emotions and moral reasons. In C. Bagnoli (Ed.), Morality and the Emotions (pp. 39–60). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hall, R. (2008). If it itches, scratch! Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86(4), 525-535.Google Scholar
  30. Harmon-Jones, E., Gable, P. A., & Price, T. F. (2013). Does negative affect always narrow and positive affect always broaden the mind? Considering the influence of motivational intensity on cognitive scope. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 301–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Helm, B. W. (2009). Emotions as evaluative feelings. Emotion Review, 1, 248–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. James, W. (1884). What is an emotion? Mind, 9, 188–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Johnston, M. (2001). The authority of affect. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63, 181-214.Google Scholar
  34. Jones, K. (2003). Emotions, weakness of will, and the normative conception of agency. In A. Hatzimoysis (Ed.), Philosophy and the Emotions (pp. 181–200). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Klein, C. (2007). An imperative theory of pain. Journal of Philosophy, 104, 517–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lambie, J. A. (2009). Emotion experience, rational action, and self-knowledge. Emotion Review, 1, 272–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Moller, D. (2011). Anticipated emotions and emotional valence. Philosophers’ Imprint, 11, 1–16.Google Scholar
  38. Oatley, K., & Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1987). Towards a cognitive theory of emotions. Cognition & Emotion, 1, 29–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Prinz, J. (2004). Gut Reactions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Quinn, W. (1993). Putting rationality in its place. In Morality and Action (pp. 228–255). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Raz, J. (1999). Practical Reasons and Norms. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Raz, A., & Buhle, J. (2006). Typologies of attentional networks. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 7(5), 367–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Reisenzein, R., & Döring, S. A. (2009). Ten perspectives on emotional experience: Introduction to the special issue. Emotion Review, 1, 195–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Roberts, R. (2003). Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Scanlon, T. M. (1998). What We Owe to Each Other. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Tappolet, C. (2010). Emotion, motivation, and action: The case of fear. In P. Goldie (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Emotion (pp. 325–345). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CISA – Swiss Centre for Affective SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations