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Published July 2018 | public
Journal Article Open

Investigating Emotions as Functional States Distinct From Feelings

Abstract

We defend a functionalist approach to emotion that begins by focusing on emotions as central states with causal connections to behavior and to other cognitive states. The approach brackets the conscious experience of emotion, lists plausible features that emotions exhibit, and argues that alternative schemes (e.g., focusing on feelings or on neurobiology as the starting point) are unpromising candidates. We conclude with the benefits of our approach: one can study emotions in animals; one can look in the brain for the implementation of specific features; and one ends up with an architecture of the mind in which emotions are fully accommodated through their relations to the rest of cognition. Our article focuses on arguing for this general approach; as such, it is an essay in the philosophy of emotion rather than in the psychology or neuroscience of emotion.

Additional Information

© 2018 The Author(s). Article first published online: July 27, 2018; Issue published: July 1, 2018. The authors are indebted to the French Society for Philosophy of Science, the French Neuroscience Society, and Thomas Pradeu for first bringing us together, and to Andrea Scarantino for helpful detailed critiques of this article. Funded in part by the Caltech Conte Center for the Neurobiology of Social Decision-Making (NIMH) and by the Carver Mead New Adventures Fund (Caltech). The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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