"Sentimental Perceptualism and the Challenge from Cognitive Bases" (with Michael Milona), Philosophical Studies, forthcoming | link
According to a historically popular view, emotions are normative experiences that ground moral knowledge much as perceptual experiences ground empirical knowledge. Given the analogy it draws between emotion and perception, sentimental perceptualism constitutes a promising, naturalist-friendly alternative to classical rationalist accounts of moral knowledge. In this paper, we consider an important but underappreciated objection to the view, namely that in contrast with perception, emotions depend for their occurrence on prior representational states, with the result that emotions cannot give perceptual-like access to normative properties. We argue that underlying this objection are several specific problems, rooted in the different types of mental states to which emotions may respond, that the sentimental perceptualist must tackle for her view to be successful. We argue, moreover, that the problems can be answered by filling out the theory with several independently motivated yet highly controversial commitments, which we carefully catalogue. The plausibility of sentimental perceptualism, as a result, hinges on further claims sentimental perceptualists should not ignore.
"Emotion: Animal and Reflective", Southern Journal of Philosophy, forthcoming | link
According to the judgment theory of emotion, emotions necessarily involve evaluative judgments. Despite a number of attractions, this theory is almost universally held to be dead, for a very simple reason: it is overly intellectualistic. On behalf of the judgment theorist, I defend a simple strategy, namely to claim that her view is restricted to a special class of emotions, a strategy that is rooted in a plausible distinction between two broad classes of emotion. It turns out that, if the judgement theory is to be rejected, such rejection cannot be based on the charge that it overintellectualizes emotions.
"The Possibility of Fitting Love: Irreplaceability and Selectivity", Synthese, forthcoming | link
The question whether there are reasons for loving particular individuals (and not others), and what such reasons might be, has been subject to scrutiny in recent years. On one view, reasons for loving particular individuals (or, alternatively, what makes loving them fitting) are some of their qualities. A problem with crude versions of this view, however, is that they both construe individuals as replaceable in a problematic way and fail to do justice to the selectivity of love. On another view, by contrast, reasons for loving particular individuals have to do with our relationship with them. Even if it might accommodate the selectivity of love, the view – like crude quality views – ultimately faces worries stemming from replaceability. I argue for a view which combines the two views in a way that accommodates both the irreplaceable aspect under which individuals are loved and the fact that love is a selective response to them. On my view, reasons for loving particular individuals are some of their qualitiesas manifested in the context of a relationship with one. After spelling out the view, I discuss an important challenge facing it: what’s so special about actually being in touch – via a relationship – with the positive properties of an individual that would explain why we have special reasons to love them in particular? I consider inadequate answers to this question before putting forward my own.
"The Real Issue with Recalcitrant Emotions: Reply to Grzankowski", Erkenntnis, forthcoming | link
In a recent paper in this journal, Alex Grzankowski sets out to defend cognitivism about emotion against what he calls the ‘problem of recalcitrance’ that many contemporary theorists take as a strong reason to reject the view. Given the little explicit discussion we find of it in a large part of the literature, however, it is not clear why exactly recalcitrant emotions are supposed to constitute a problem for cognitivism in the first place. Grzankowski outlines an argument that he thinks is at play in theorists’ widespread rejection of cognitivism, and goes on to answer it on behalf of the cognitivist. In this reply, I argue that Grzankowski is concerned with the wrong argument.
“Love as a Disposition”, in Grau, C. & Smuts, A. (eds), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Love, Oxford University Press, forthcoming | link
I propose that the question “What is love?” be given an ontological treatment. Rather than asking whether love can be identified with a familiar mental phenomenon (desire, emotion, etc.), I suggest that we should first ask what kind of phenomenon love is, where a kind should here be understood as the most general category to which a given phenomenon belongs, an inquiry which is largely missing from contemporary discussions about love. After motivating this project, I first discuss and reject a view according to which love is a certain kind of pattern or process, and then argue that love should be conceived of as a certain kind of state, namely a dispositional state.
Qui peut sauver la morale? Essai de métaéthique (with François Jaquet), éditions d'Ithaque, 2019 | link
Quelle est la nature des faits moraux? Existe-t-il de tels faits ? Les énoncés moraux peuvent-ils prétendre à la vérité ? Vous pensez peut-être que la peine de mort est injuste ? Ou que l’avortement est moralement acceptable ? Se pourrait-il alors que vous vous trompiez ? C’est en tout cas l’avis des théoriciens de l’erreur. D’après ces philosophes, tous les jugements moraux sont faux parce qu’ils présupposent à tort l’existence de faits moraux à la fois objectifs et non naturels.Organisé autour de ce défi nihiliste, le présent ouvrage aborde les principales théories métaéthiques comme autant de tentatives, plus ou moins fructueuses, de sauver la morale. Les théories qu’on y rencontre combinent invariablement une thèse psychologique (sur la nature des jugements moraux) et une thèse ontologique (sur l’existence d’une réalité morale conforme auxdits présupposés). Dans le style argumentatif sobre et précis qui caractérise la philosophie analytique, ce manuel de métaéthique – le premier en langue française – entreprend d’évaluer minutieusement un ensemble de théories sur la morale. Bien que destiné en premier lieu aux enseignants de philosophie et à leurs étudiants, il se veut accessible à tous ceux qu’intéresse l’éthique.
"Gratitude: Generic vs. Deep", in Roberts, R. & Telech, D. (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Gratitude, Rowman & Littlefield, 2019 | link
In this paper, I argue that gratitude is not necessarily affective or motivating. Against a common trend in recent philosophical treatments of the notion, indeed, I argue for the introduction of an important but neglected kind of gratitude that is simply a matter of believing that one has been benefitted by a benevolent benefactor. I will call this non-affective, non-motivating kind of gratitude “generic,” and the kind – taking center stage in the literature – that is affective and motivating “deep.” After defending the distinction, I explore the connection between these kinds of gratitude.
“Sentiments”, in Naar, H. & Teroni, F. (eds), The Ontology of Emotions, Cambridge University Press, 2018 | link
I discuss the intuitive distinction between emotions and sentiments, and argue that sentiments cannot be reduced to emotions (and hence constitute their own category of affective state).
“Le pouvoir”, eds. Deonna, J. & Tieffenbach, E., Petit traité des valeurs, Editions d'Ithaque, 2018 | link
A short entry on the nature of social power, in particular on the question whether it can be understood in terms of powers as discussed in the metaphysics literature (in French).
“Review of Sabine Roeser & Cain Todd, Emotion and Value” (with Christine Tappolet), Analysis, 77, 3, 675-678, 2017 | link
“Subject-Relative Reasons for Love”, Ratio, 30, 2, 197-214, 2017 | link
Can love be an appropriate response to a person? In this paper, I argue that it can. First, I discuss the reasons why we might think this question should be answered in the negative. This will help us clarify the question itself. Then I argue that, even though extant accounts of reasons for love are inadequate, there remains the suspicion that there must be something about people which make our love for them appropriate. Being lovable, I contend, is what makes our love for them appropriate, just as being fearsome is what makes our fear of certain situations appropriate. I finally propose a general account of this property which avoids the major problems facing the extant accounts of reasons for love.
“Do Intuitions about Frankfurt-Style Cases Rest on an Internalist Prejudice?” (with Florian Cova), Philosophical Explorations, 19,3, 290-305, 2016 | link
“Frankfurt-style cases” (FSCs) are widely considered as having refuted the Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP) by presenting cases in which an agent is morally responsible even if he could not have done otherwise. However, Neil Levy has recently argued that FSCs fail because (i) our intuitions about cases involving counterfactual interveners (CIs) are inconsistent (we accept that the mere presence of CIs is enough to make us gain but not lose responsibility-underwriting capacities), and (ii) this inconsistency is best explained by the fact that our intuitions about such cases are grounded in an internalist prejudice about the location of mental states and capacities. In response to this challenge, we argue that (i) there is no inconsistency in our intuitions about cases involving CIs, as soon as we draw the comparison properly, and that (ii) intuitions about such cases do not rest on an internalist prejudice, but on a more basic distinction between two kinds of dispositions. Additionally, we discuss some methodological issues that arise when comparing intuitions about thought experiments and end with a discussion of the implications of our argument for the reliability of intuitions about FSCs.
“Real-World Love Drugs: Reply to Nyholm”, Journal of Applied Philosophy, 33, 2, 197-201, 2016 | link
In a recent article, Sven Nyholm argues that the use of biomedical enhancements in our romantic relationships would fail to secure the final value we attribute to love. On Nyholm's view, one thing we desire for its own sake is to be at the origin of the love others have for us. The satisfaction of this desire, he argues, is incompatible with the use of BE insofar as they are responsible for the attachment characteristic of love. In particular, the use of BE in order to create and sustain the sort of attachment characteristic of love would be less desirable than the creation and sustainment of it by more ordinary means. If one needs such enhancements in order for one's love to be created or sustained, then one's love is of lesser quality than the love we want. In this reply, I raise doubts about the argument.
“Moral Beliefs for the Error Theorist?”, (with François Jaquet), Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 19, 193-207, 2016 | link
The moral error theory holds that moral claims and beliefs, because they commit us to the existence of illusory entities, are systematically false or untrue. It is an open question what we should do with moral thought and discourse once we have become convinced by this view. Until recently, this question had received two main answers. The abolitionist proposed that we should get rid of moral thought altogether. The fictionalist, though he agreed we should eliminate moral beliefs, enjoined us to replace them with attitudes that resemble to some extent the attitudes we have towards pieces of fiction. But there is now a third theory on the market: conservationism, the view that we should keep holding moral beliefs, even though we know them to be false. (According to a fourth theory, ‘substitutionism’, we should modify the content of our moral claims in such a way that they become true.) Putting abolitionism (and substitutionism) aside, our aim is to assess the plausibility of conservationism as an alternative to the – relatively dominant – fictionalism that we find in the literature. Given the difficulty of finding a conservationist view that is both (i) plausible and (ii) not merely a terminological variant of fictionalism, we will argue that conservationism fails to constitute a plausible alternative to fictionalism, at least insofar as it purports to be an alternative view as to what we should do with our moral thoughts.
“Le caractère personnel des émotions”, Revue Philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger, special issue “Les motivations affectives”, ed. J. Deonna, 141, 2, 197-214, 2016 | link
Cet article explore la viabilité de la conjonction de trois thèses : (1) qu’il existe des valeurs objectives ; (2) que certaines émotions ont pour fonction de les représenter ; (3) que de telles émotions représentent ces valeurs de manière fiable. Nous cherchons plus particulièrement à réconcilier la troisième thèse avec l’observation que les émotions ont un aspect subjectif ou personnel qu’il n’est pas possible d’éliminer.
This article explores the viability of the conjunction of three claims: (1) that there are objective values; (2) that some emotions have the function of representing them; (3) that such emotions represent these values reliably. In particular, we will be concerned with the project of reconciling (3) with the simple observation that emotions have a subjective or personal aspect that cannot be ignored.
“Review of Berit Brogaard, On Romantic Love”, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2015 | link
“A Dispositional Theory of Love”, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 94, 3, 342-357, 2013 | link
On a naive reading of the major accounts of love, love is a kind of mental event. A recent trend in the philosophical literature on love is to reject these accounts on the basis that they do not do justice to the historical dimension of love, as love essentially involves a distinctive kind of temporally extended pattern. Although the historicist account has advantages over the positions that it opposes, its appeal to the notion of a pattern is problematic. I will argue that an account of love as disposition, suitably construed, is superior to the historicist account in that it has the advantages the historicist account has without its problems. In addition, the dispositional account has advantages of its own.
“Art and Emotion”, eds. Fieser, J. & Dowden, B., Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2013 | link
A 13000-word survey of some of the major issues surrounding our emotional responses to artworks. Topics discussed include the paradox of fiction, the paradox of tragedy, and the nature of emotion in response to music.
"Review of Daniel Haybron, The Pursuit of Unhappiness", Philosophical Psychology, 25, 2, 307-310, 2012 | link
“Side-Effect Effect Without Side Effect: The Pervasive Impact of Moral Considerations on Judgments of Intentionality” (with Florian Cova), Philosophical Psychology, 25, 6, 837-854, 2012 | link
Studying the folk concept of intentional action, Knobe (2003a) discovered a puzzling asymmetry: most people consider some bad side effects as intentional while they consider some good side effects as unintentional. In this study, we extend these findings with new experiments. The first experiment shows that the very same effect can be found in ascriptions of intentionality in the case of means for action. The second and third experiments show that means are nevertheless generally judged more intentional than side effects, and that people do take into account the structure of the action when ascribing intentionality. We then discuss a number of hypotheses that can account for these data, using reactions times from our first experiment.
“Testing Sripada’s Deep Self Model” (with Florian Cova), Philosophical Psychology, 25, 5, 647-659, 2012 | link
Sripada has recently advanced a new account for asymmetries that have been uncovered in folk judgments of intentionality: the ?Deep Self model,? according to which an action is more likely to be judged as intentional if it matches the agent's central and stable attitudes and values (i.e., the agent's Deep Self). In this paper, we present new experiments that challenge this model in two ways: first, we show that the Deep Self model makes predictions that are falsified, then we present cases that it cannot account for. Finally, we discuss how the Deep Self model could be modified to accommodate these new data.
“Review of Ronald de Sousa, Emotional Truth”, Metapsychology Online Reviews, 15, 25, 2011 | link
“Le nativisme moral”, in Masala, A. & Ravat, J. (eds.), La Morale Humaine et les Sciences, Editions Matériologiques, 2011 | link
An overview of nativist views of moral cognition (in French).