Sentimental perceptualism and the challenge from cognitive bases

Philosophical Studies 177 (10):3071-3096 (2020)
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Abstract

According to a historically popular view, emotions are normative experiences that ground moral knowledge much as perceptual experiences ground empirical knowledge. Given the analogy it draws between emotion and perception, sentimental perceptualism constitutes a promising, naturalist-friendly alternative to classical rationalist accounts of moral knowledge. In this paper, we consider an important but underappreciated objection to the view, namely that in contrast with perception, emotions depend for their occurrence on prior representational states, with the result that emotions cannot give perceptual-like access to normative properties. We argue that underlying this objection are several specific problems, rooted in the different types of mental states to which emotions may respond, that the sentimental perceptualist must tackle for her view to be successful. We argue, moreover, that the problems can be answered by filling out the theory with several independently motivated yet highly controversial commitments, which we carefully catalogue. The plausibility of sentimental perceptualism, as a result, hinges on further claims sentimental perceptualists should not ignore.

Author Profiles

Hichem Naar
University of Duisburg-Essen
Michael Milona
Toronto Metropolitan University

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