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Standing up for an affective account of emotion

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This paper constitutes a defence of an affective account of emotion. I begin by outlining the case for thinking that emotions are just feelings. I also suggest that emotional feelings are not reducible to other kinds of feelings, but rather form a distinct class of feeling state. I then consider a number of common objections that have been raised against affective accounts of emotion, including: (1) the objection that emotion cannot always consist only of feeling because some emotions—for example, indignation and regret—necessarily have a cognitive component (say, the perception of a lost opportunity in the case of regret); (2) the objection that emotion cannot consist only of feeling because in order to explain how emotions have intentional objects we will have to recognise that emotion consists of cognition; and (3) the objection that emotion cannot consist only of feeling because emotion, but not feeling, can be variously assessed or evaluated. However, I demonstrate how an affective account of emotion might be successfully defended against all of the objections that are cited.

Keywords: cognition; emotion; evaluation; feeling; intentionality; phenomenology

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Division of Primary Care, University of Liverpool, Whelan Building, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool, L69 3GB, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2006


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