•  84
    Valence: A reflection
    Emotion Researcher: ISRE's Sourcebook for Research on Emotion and Affect (C. Todd and E. Wall Eds.). 2021.
    This article gives a short presentation of reflexive imperativism, the intentionalist theory of valence I developed with Max Khan Hayward. The theory says that mental states have valence in virtue of having reflexive imperative content. More precisely, mental states have positive valence (i.e., feel good) in virtue of issuing the command "More of me!", and they have negative valence (i.e., feel bad) in virtue of issuing the command "Less of me!" The article summarises the main arguments in favou…Read more
  •  201
    Beyond good and bad: Reflexive imperativism, not evaluativism, explains valence
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 9 (4): 274-284. 2020.
    Evaluativism (Carruthers 2018) and reflexive imperativism (Barlassina and Hayward 2019) agree that valence—the (un)pleasantness of experiences—is a natural kind shared across all affective states. But they disagree about what valence is. For evaluativism, an experience is pleasant/unpleasant in virtue of representing its worldly object as good/bad; for reflexive imperativism, an experience is pleasant/unpleasant in virtue of commanding its subject to get more/less of itself. I argue that reflexi…Read more
  •  186
    There are sentences that express the same temporally fully specified proposition at all contexts--call them 'context-insensitive, temporally specific sentences.' Sentence (1) 'Obama was born in 1961' is a case in point: at all contexts, it expresses the proposition ascribing to the year 1961 the property of being a time in which Obama was born. Suppose that someone uttered (1) in a context located on Christmas 2000 in our world. In this context, (1) is a true sentence about the past. Moreover, i…Read more
  •  221
    Affective experiences such as pains, pleasures, and emotions have affective phenomenology: they feel pleasant. This type of phenomenology has a loopy regulatory profile: it often motivates us to act a certain way, and these actions typically end up regulating our affective experiences back. For example, the pleasure you get by tasting your morning coffee motivates you to drink more of it, and this in turn results in you obtaining another pleasant gustatory experience. In this article, we argue t…Read more
  •  506
    Experiences like pains, pleasures, and emotions have affective phenomenal character: they feel pleasant or unpleasant. Imperativism proposes to explain affective phenomenal character by appeal to imperative content, a kind of intentional content that directs rather than describes. We argue that imperativism is on the right track, but has been developed in the wrong way. There are two varieties of imperativism on the market: first-order and higher-order. We show that neither is successful, and of…Read more
  •  412
    The puzzle of the changing past
    Analysis 75 (1): 59-67. 2015.
    If you utter sentence (1) ‘Obama was born in 1961’ now, you say something true about the past. Since the past will always be such that the year 1961 has the property of being a time in which Obama was born, it seems impossible that could ever be false in a future context of utterance. We shall consider the case of a sentence about the past exactly like (1), but which was true when uttered a few years ago and is no longer true now. On this basis, we shall conclude that the past has changed.
  •  262
    Folk psychology as mental simulation
    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2017.
    Mindreading (or folk psychology, Theory of Mind, mentalizing) is the capacity to represent and reason about others’ mental states. The Simulation Theory (ST) is one of the main approaches to mindreading. ST draws on the common-sense idea that we represent and reason about others’ mental states by putting ourselves in their shoes. More precisely, we typically arrive at representing others’ mental states by simulating their mental states in our own mind. This entry offers a detailed analysis of ST…Read more
  •  672
    The Role of Bodily Perception in Emotion: In Defense of an Impure Somatic Theory
    with Albert Newen
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (3): 637-678. 2014.
    In this paper, we develop an impure somatic theory of emotion, according to which emotions are constituted by the integration of bodily perceptions with representations of external objects, events, or states of affairs. We put forward our theory by contrasting it with Prinz's pure somatic theory, according to which emotions are entirely constituted by bodily perceptions. After illustrating Prinz's theory and discussing the evidence in its favor, we show that it is beset by serious problems—i.e.,…Read more
  •  338
    The good, the bad, and the timely: How temporal order and moral judgment influence causal selection
    with Kevin Reuter, Lara Kirfel, and Raphael van Riel
    Frontiers in Psychology 5 (1336): 1-10. 2014.
    Causal selection is the cognitive process through which one or more elements in a complex causal structure are singled out as actual causes of a certain effect. In this paper, we report on an experiment in which we investigated the role of moral and temporal factors in causal selection. Our results are as follows. First, when presented with a temporal chain in which two human agents perform the same action one after the other, subjects tend to judge the later agent to be the actual cause. Second…Read more
  •  1419
    Moral judgment in adults with autism spectrum disorders
    with Tiziana Zalla, Marine Buon, and Marion Leboyer
    Cognition 121 (1): 115-126. 2011.
    The ability of a group of adults with high functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger Syndrome (AS) to distinguish moral, conventional and disgust transgressions was investigated using a set of six transgression scenarios, each of which was followed by questions about permissibility, seriousness, authority contingency and justification. The results showed that although individuals with HFA or AS (HFA/AS) were able to distinguish affect-backed norms from conventional affect-neutral norms along the dime…Read more
  •  662
    Mindreading is the ability to attribute mental states to other individuals. According to the Theory-Theory (TT), mindreading is based on one's possession of a Theory of Mind. On the other hand, the Simulation Theory (ST) maintains that one arrives at the attribution of a mental state by simulating it in one's own mind. In this paper, I propose a ST-TT hybrid model of the ability to attribute disgust on the basis of visual stimuli such as facial expressions, body postures, etc. More precisely, wh…Read more
  •  301
    Mindreading is the ability to attribute mental states to other individuals. According to the simulation theory (ST), mindreading is based on the ability the mind has of replicating others' mental states and processes. Mirror neurons (MNs) are a class of neurons that fire both when an agent performs a goal-directed action and when she observes the same type of action performed by another individual. Since MNs appear to form a replicative mechanism in which a portion of the observer's brain replic…Read more