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No Need to Get Emotional? Emotions and Heuristics

Szigeti, Andras LU (2012)
Abstract
Call the Dependence Thesis the popular view that values are dependent on emotions. This paper argues that the Dependence Thesis is amenable to different readings and critiques one particular reading. According to the Definitional Dependence Thesis, definitions of evaluative concepts necessarily have to appeal to emotions. By contrast, according to the Epistemic Dependence Thesis, which is the target of this paper, values depend on emotions because emotions are our best way to detect or find out about values. The paper makes two claims about the epistemic role of emotions. The negative claim is that the Epistemic Dependence Thesis is false. Emotions are not epistemically superior ways of acquiring knowledge about value. The positive claim... (More)
Call the Dependence Thesis the popular view that values are dependent on emotions. This paper argues that the Dependence Thesis is amenable to different readings and critiques one particular reading. According to the Definitional Dependence Thesis, definitions of evaluative concepts necessarily have to appeal to emotions. By contrast, according to the Epistemic Dependence Thesis, which is the target of this paper, values depend on emotions because emotions are our best way to detect or find out about values. The paper makes two claims about the epistemic role of emotions. The negative claim is that the Epistemic Dependence Thesis is false. Emotions are not epistemically superior ways of acquiring knowledge about value. The positive claim is that emotions can be helpful in acquiring knowledge about value. To explain how emotions can play this epistemic role, the paper proposes the heuristics-model of emotions. On this model, emotions are used as mental short-cuts in evaluations. The empirical plausibility of the heuristics-model is demonstrated using evidence from experimental psychology, evolutionary anthropology, and neuroscience. That the heuristics-model is not only empirically plausible, but has considerable philosophical appeal as well is demonstrated through a discussion of paradigm cases in the philosophy of emotions involving recalcitrant emotions, moral dilemmas, and collective actions. It is argued that the heuristics-model can well explain the peculiarities of our emotional reactions in these cases. The paper closes by showing how opposition to sentimentalist metaethics is compatible with a belief in the significance of emotions in first-order ethics. (7,801 words) (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Working Paper
publication status
submitted
subject
keywords
emotions, heuristics, sentimentalism, metaethics, value
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
c23e32d9-03f2-4e6b-b275-febcecab2279 (old id 2301937)
date added to LUP
2012-01-25 12:48:46
date last changed
2016-09-30 15:00:10
@misc{c23e32d9-03f2-4e6b-b275-febcecab2279,
  abstract     = {Call the Dependence Thesis the popular view that values are dependent on emotions. This paper argues that the Dependence Thesis is amenable to different readings and critiques one particular reading. According to the Definitional Dependence Thesis, definitions of evaluative concepts necessarily have to appeal to emotions. By contrast, according to the Epistemic Dependence Thesis, which is the target of this paper, values depend on emotions because emotions are our best way to detect or find out about values. The paper makes two claims about the epistemic role of emotions. The negative claim is that the Epistemic Dependence Thesis is false. Emotions are not epistemically superior ways of acquiring knowledge about value. The positive claim is that emotions can be helpful in acquiring knowledge about value. To explain how emotions can play this epistemic role, the paper proposes the heuristics-model of emotions. On this model, emotions are used as mental short-cuts in evaluations. The empirical plausibility of the heuristics-model is demonstrated using evidence from experimental psychology, evolutionary anthropology, and neuroscience. That the heuristics-model is not only empirically plausible, but has considerable philosophical appeal as well is demonstrated through a discussion of paradigm cases in the philosophy of emotions involving recalcitrant emotions, moral dilemmas, and collective actions. It is argued that the heuristics-model can well explain the peculiarities of our emotional reactions in these cases. The paper closes by showing how opposition to sentimentalist metaethics is compatible with a belief in the significance of emotions in first-order ethics. (7,801 words)},
  author       = {Szigeti, Andras},
  keyword      = {emotions,heuristics,sentimentalism,metaethics,value},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {No Need to Get Emotional? Emotions and Heuristics},
  year         = {2012},
}