The Real Trouble with Recalcitrant Emotions

Erkenntnis 82 (3):641-651 (2017)
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Abstract
Cognitivists about the emotions minimally hold that it is a necessary condition for being in an emotional state that one make a certain judgement or have a certain belief. For example, if I am angry with Sam, then I must believe that Sam has wronged me. Perhaps I must also elicit a certainly bodily response or undergo some relevant experience, but crucial to the view is the belief or judgement. In the face of ‘recalcitrant emotions’, this once very popular view has come under heavy criticism that has led many theorists to either abandon the view or to offer more nuanced representational views of the emotions. Against what seems to now be received wisdom, I argue that cognitivists have tools at their disposal that allow them to alleviate the apparent conflicts presented by cases of recalcitrance. But I also believe that cognitivists are still in trouble. Although cognitivists have a range of underexplored resources, their use comes at a high cost. In particular, cognitivists must adopt a widespread and thoroughgoing inaccessibility to our own thoughts and judgements that should strike one as implausible. It is mental opacity rather than mental conflict that is the real problem posed by recalcitrance.
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2016, 2017
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Archival date: 2017-12-07
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2016-08-13

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