Valent Representation: Problems and Prospects

Journal of Philosophy of Emotion 5 (2):17-23 (2024)
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If emotion is not an arbitrary compilation of fixed types of (descriptive, conceptual, conative, prescriptive) content, nor a state that can be reduced to other types of pre-existing (perceptual, cognitive, behavioral) states, then what sort of thing is it really? Tom Cochrane has proposed that emotions are valent representations of situated concerns. Valent representation is a type of mental content whose function is to detect the presence or absence of certain conditions; what makes that type of content valent is that without needing the mediation of any other state, a response is triggered that is disposed to increase or decrease the presence of the condition represented. I raise doubts about the plausibility of that account in light of recent work in philosophy of biology and philosophy of mind.

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Anthony Hatzimoysis
University of Athens


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