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Moral Psychology and Human AgencyPhilosophical Essays on the Science of Ethics$
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Justin D'Arms and Daniel Jacobson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198717812

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198717812.001.0001

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The Motivational Theory of Emotions

The Motivational Theory of Emotions

Chapter:
(p.156) 8 The Motivational Theory of Emotions
Source:
Moral Psychology and Human Agency
Author(s):

Andrea Scarantino

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198717812.003.0008

Having an emotion customarily involves appraising a stimulus a particular way, feeling a particular way, and being motivated to act a particular way. These three aspects offer distinctive entry points for explaining what emotions are. Philosophers have so far built their accounts primarily around appraisals and feelings. As a result, two research programs have dominated the philosophy of emotions over the past forty years: Cognitivism and Perceptualism. The objective of this paper is to introduce a new Motivational Theory of Emotions, which replaces the primacy of the appraisal and feeling aspects of emotions with the primacy of their motivational dimension. The core proposal is that emotions are action control systems designed to prioritize the pursuit of some goals over others. The Motivational Theory will be shown to explain how emotions motivate better than Cognitivism and Perceptualism, and to offer solutions to two outstanding problems in the philosophy of emotions: explaining the intentionality of emotions and explaining how emotions differ from one another.

Keywords:   emotion, feeling, affect, action, motivation, Frijda, cognitivism, perceptualism, intentionality

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