The Behavioral Conflict of Emotion

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ABSTRACT: This paper understands mental attitudes such as emotions and desires to be dispositions to behavior. It also acknowledges that people are often ambivalent, i.e., that they may hold opposed attitudes towards something or someone. Yet the first position seems to entail that ambivalence is either tantamount to paralysis or a contradictory notion. I identify the problem as based on a reductive interpretation of the dispositional character of attitudes and of ambivalence. The paper instead defends a post-Davidsonian view of the basic rationality of human life. By focussing on desire and emotion we can see that the mutually exclusive ways of life involved in ambivalence are manifested in the person’s conduct.
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