Emotion, Cognition, and World

  • Phil Hutchinson


At the beginning of Chapter 1, I said that the dominant research program in the philosophy of the emotions for over 30 years has been what is variously called cognitivism, propositional attitude theory, or (quasi-)judgementalism. The number of terms is apt to confuse; so to begin I shall try to settle on one and then sort through the main differences. As we saw, Paul Griffiths refers to this—somewhat disparate—group as propositional attitude theorists. This is misleading. Griffiths claims that theorists from Anthony Kenny (1963) and Robert Solomon (1976) to Robert Nash (1989), Michael Stocker (1987), and Robert C. Roberts (1988) hold that to have an emotion is to have a specific type of propositional attitude. This misrepresents quite a number of those Griffiths intends as his targets; even a ‘pure cognitivist’ such as Solomon does not hold the emotions to necessarily have propositional content (see Solomon 2004: p. 77). In this respect Griffiths runs the risk of electing as his nemesis no more than a straw man. Similarly judgementalism1 is too narrow; if we broaden it to quasi-judgementalism,2 we will have included many of those philosophers who have studied the emotions over the past 30 years. However, the term is still too narrow as it implies that the thoughts that constitute the emotion are judgements (or quasi-judgements/evaluative beliefs) and this is simply false as regards those theorists such as Anthony Kenny (1963) who take the cognitive and explanatory elements of emotions to be (plain, non-evaluative) beliefs, and those such as Robert C. Roberts (1988, 2003) who take them to be construals.


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Copyright information

© Phil Hutchinson 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phil Hutchinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Manchester Metropolitan UniversityUK

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