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The Heat of Emotion: Valence and the Demarcation Problem

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Philosophical discussions regarding the status of emotion as a scientific domain usually get framed in terms of the question whether emotion is a natural kind. That approach to the issues is wrongheaded for two reasons. First, it has led to an intractable philosophical impasse that ultimately misconstrues the character of the relevant debate in emotion science. Second, and most important, it entirely ignores valence, a central feature of emotion experience, and probably the most promising criterion for demarcating emotion from cognition and other related domains. An alternate philosophical hypothesis for addressing the issues is proposed. It is that emotion is a naturally occurring valenced phenomenon that is variously modifiable by psychological and cultural circumstances. This proposal should improve the chances for collaboration between philosophical and scientific researchers interested in emotion, something that has been notoriously absent from the present 'debate', which has mostly been a philosopher's game.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Departments of Philosophy and Psychiatry & Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London Ontario Canada N6A3K7 ., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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