A Minimalist Theory of Emotional Valence: A Response to Jesse Prinz

By Norah Hannel, Connecticut College This paper was presented at Prometheus’ 2014 Mid-Atlantic Philosophy Conference. By offering two counterarguments to Jesse Prinz’s explanation of valence, I will ultimately defend the view that valence depends on an emotion’s pleasantness and unpleasantness. In his book Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion (2004), Prinz gives an overview of five possible valence theories that he refutes to then propose his own alternative. Before delineating them, however, I will proffer a clearer understanding of what valence consists in. To embark with a definition in mind, “the difference between positive and negative emotions is called … Continue reading A Minimalist Theory of Emotional Valence: A Response to Jesse Prinz

Challenging Carel’s (2007) Phenomenological Account of Illness: What Physical Comedy May Tell Us About Defining Health and Illness

By Kaitlin Sibbald, The University of King’s College Introduction In this paper, I critically examine Havi Carel’s definitions of ‘health’ and ‘illness’ as explored in her article “Can I be Ill and Happy?”. Using analogous phenomenological accounts described in theories of comedy, I argue that Carel’s account is too limited to include all phenomenological experiences of health and illness and propose an adaptation to her definition to account for experiences she may neglect. In “Can I be Ill and Happy?”, Havi Carel argues that incorporating a phenomenological account into how we understand illness gives credence to the lived experience of … Continue reading Challenging Carel’s (2007) Phenomenological Account of Illness: What Physical Comedy May Tell Us About Defining Health and Illness

Liberating the Kantian Sublime: Sublimity as Humanism, and Inquiries into the Poetically Sublime

By James Zainaldin Abstract: Kant’s sublime experience is limited by two primary factors: 1) it finds its significance almost exclusively in the moral and religious and 2) it has no place in the sphere of human-produced works. A close reading of Kant’s Analytic of the Sublime returns the understanding that neither of these limitations is an essential property of the sublime experience, however. Indeed, questioning the Kantian sublime’s moral implications actually demonstrates that the sublime is of vital importance to human experience more broadly: the sublime, through its affirmation of the human mind, celebrates and instills a deep appreciation for … Continue reading Liberating the Kantian Sublime: Sublimity as Humanism, and Inquiries into the Poetically Sublime

Dennett’s Propositional Attitudes

By KAROLINA WISNIEWSKI ABSTRACT: The following paper will seek to do two things: succinctly outline Dennett’s defense of propositional attitudes as having causal powers over human behaviour using the intentional stance, and subsequently analyze the specific downfalls in his position which render his argument ineffective. Dennett’s wish to validate propositional attitudes stems from the desire to retain a certain degree of scientific certainty without doing away with the language of beliefs, values and intentions. His answer to the body-mind problem is to explain the how abstract sounding phenomena such as intentions are able to affect the physical actions of humans. A critical analysis, it will be … Continue reading Dennett’s Propositional Attitudes

A Defense of the Extended Mind Thesis

In their article “The Extended Mind” (1998), Andy Clark and David Chalmers introduce a theory of extended cognition. In this paper I explain what extended cognition theories maintain by examining one such theory in particular- namely the Extended Mind thesis (EM), which Clark and Chalmers put forth. Following this, I consider two popular objections raised against EM- one based on concerns about what exactly constitutes a “part” of a cognitive system, and the other based on the intuition that the biological body is what marks the natural boundary between humans and their environments- and provide a defense of EM from each of these objections. Continue reading A Defense of the Extended Mind Thesis

No Thanks, This Experience Machine’s Fine.

Given the opportunity, would I allow myself to be hooked up to a machine that makes me feel as though I am authentically living out my wildest dreams? If this were the case given the choice, considering that I would be basing my decision on personal and psychological factors, I would not go into the machine. I am too attached to this life to follow through with this decision, even if I were to reason out that it was in my best interest, even with the knowledge that my decision would be irrelevant once in the machine. However, while my philosophical reasoning would be largely irrelevant in my actual decision-making process, I will argue that, philosophically, based on my conception of the ‘good life’, I would still not enter. Continue reading No Thanks, This Experience Machine’s Fine.

Active Externalism and the Metaphysics of Inference

By Lee J. Elkin
In a scientific and philosophical context, I believe that inference can fall under the category of computation. Essentially, humans have evolved to be able to infer through computing and processing information at a complex level – more than any other biological being. This feature most likely occurred through the process of natural selection according to the theory of evolution, and thus human beings have adapted to such feature. Although it took sometime to develop computational skills, it is proven that humans have adapted adequately tracing back to antiquity based on our evidence provided by historical and anthropological records. Continue reading Active Externalism and the Metaphysics of Inference

To Whom Behavior Happens

By JULIAN GROVE In the late nineteenth century, psychologist and philosopher William James wrote in his Principles of Psychology, “So far as I know, the existence of such states [of consciousness] has never been doubted by any critic, however skeptical in other respects he may have been…. All people unhesitatingly believe that they feel themselves thinking… I regard this belief as the most fundamental of all the postulates of Psychology…” (185). James might have felt a bit naïve had he lived eighty years later and read the work of B.F. Skinner. In Beyond Freedom and Dignity, Skinner is very skeptical … Continue reading To Whom Behavior Happens

The Conceptions of Belief Within the Brain

By Julian Grove
Though people use the term regularly, “believing” is a somewhat foggy notion in philosophy. It’s easy for a person to say that he or she has a belief, but saying what that even means is a completely different story; having a belief seems to be a very complicated endeavor from the analyst’s point of view. Jerry Fodor and Daniel Dennett are two contemporary philosophers who propose different accounts of what constitutes belief. This paper compares and contrasts the two, in the end coming up with a slightly different conception of beliefs in the brain than either. Continue reading The Conceptions of Belief Within the Brain