The Attitudinalist Challenge to Perceptualism about Emotion

Dialectica (forthcoming)
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Perceptualists maintain that emotions essentially involve perceptual experiences of value. This view pressures advocates to individuate emotion types (e.g. anger, fear) by their respective evaluative contents. This paper explores the Attitudinalist Challenge to perceptualism. According to the challenge, everyday ways of talking and thinking about emotions conflict with the thesis that emotions are individuated by, or even have, evaluative content; the attitudinalist proposes instead that emotions are evaluative at the level of attitude. Faced with this challenge, perceptualists should deepen their analogy with sensory experience; they should distinguish types of emotions by their content much as we can plausibly distinguish types of sensory experience (e.g. visual, auditory) by theirs. A second lesson is that perceptualists should distinguish an emotion’s representational guise (uniform across emotions) from its formal object (which varies).

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Michael Milona
Toronto Metropolitan University


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