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Explaining Action by Emotion

Sabine A. Döring
The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-)
Vol. 53, No. 211 (Apr., 2003), pp. 214-230
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3542865
Page Count: 17
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Explaining Action by Emotion
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Abstract

I discuss two ways in which emotions explain actions: in the first, the explanation is expressive; in the second, the action is not only explained but also rationalized by the emotion's intentional content. The belief-desire model cannot satisfactorily account for either of these cases. My main purpose is to show that the emotions constitute an irreducible category in the explanation of action, to be understood by analogy with perception. Emotions are affective perceptions. Their affect gives them motivational force, and they can rationalize actions because, like perception, they have a representational intentional content. Because of this, an emotion can non-inferentially justify a belief which in its turn justifies or rationalizes an action; so emotions may constitute a source of moral knowledge.

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