Andrea Scarantino

Emotional Action Between Automaticity and Control

Emotional action has recently attracted the attention of both philosophers and scientists, even through the two literatures on emotional action have barely overlapped. Philosophers have debated mostly arational emotional actions (Hursthouse 1991), namely “weird” emotional actions like rolling around in one’s dead wife’s clothes out of grief or kicking a door out of anger. The key philosophical question has been: can arational actions be explained in terms of the Humean theory of motivation, i.e. in terms of belief and desire pairs? Scientists have instead debated emotional action more generally, focusing in particular on the causal connection between emotions and actions. The two key scientific questions have been: Are emotional actions caused by emotions? If so, which model of emotion-action causation is most suitable? In this talk, I will argue that neither philosophical nor scientific models are suitable, because they, respectively, overestimate and underestimate the level of control involved in emotional actions. I will present a new theory of emotional actions in conclusion, largely inspired by Nico Frjida’s seminal work.


link to video