Beyond good and bad: Reflexive imperativism, not evaluativism, explains valence

Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 9 (4):274-284 (2020)
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Evaluativism (Carruthers 2018) and reflexive imperativism (Barlassina and Hayward 2019) agree that valence—the (un)pleasantness of experiences—is a natural kind shared across all affective states. But they disagree about what valence is. For evaluativism, an experience is pleasant/unpleasant in virtue of representing its worldly object as good/bad; for reflexive imperativism, an experience is pleasant/unpleasant in virtue of commanding its subject to get more/less of itself. I argue that reflexive imperativism is superior to evaluativism according to Carruthers’s own standards. He maintains that a theory of valence should account for its phenomenology and role in imagination-based decision-making. I show that it is reflexive imperativism, rather than evaluativism, that fits this explanatory bill.
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First archival date: 2020-10-15
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