Affective Touch from a Philosophical Standpoint

  • Matthew FulkersonEmail author


This chapter offers a critical philosophical examination of recent work on pleasant (or affective) touch. After developing a distinction between two notions of perceptual affect, I argue that “emotional” and “affiliative” touch are best understood as causing affective reactions, and that affective touch is best understood as perceptually presenting us with affective qualities. In other words, affective touch, unlike other forms of hedonic touch, has a presentational character. On neither model does touch involve anything like a pleasantness detector, nor does it involve a direct relation to or representation of affective qualities understood as objective sensible features of external objects. I suggest an alternative, largely dispositional account of affective touch experiences. Taken together, these reflections aim to provide a detailed framework for better understanding the richness and diversity of affective touch experience.


Affect Affiliative touch CT fibers Emotional touch Pleasant touch 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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