Olivier Massin

SNSF assistant professorship


Institution : Universität Zürich
Department : Philosophisches Seminar
Thesis topic : Emotion, Feeling and Value

NCCR position : Senior researcher
NCCR PI : Kevin Mulligan
NCCR most relevant publications
2017, "Towards a Definition of Efforts", Motivation Science 3(3), pp. 230-259.
2017, "The Metaphysics of Economic Exchanges", avec Emma Tieffenbach, Journal of Social Ontology 3(2) , pp.167-205.
2014, "Pleasure and its Contraries", The Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 5(1), pp. 14-40.

General Information

I am currently member of the Philosophy Project and  a Maître-Assistant in the Departement of Philosophy of the University of Geneva. I defended two PhD's in Philosophy. The first one, "The objectivity of the sense of touch", under the supervision of J.-M. Monnoyer, purports to define the tactiles sense thanks to the pressures it bears on, and to explains to what extent touch is more objective than the other human sense. The second one, entitled  "On pleasures", under the supervision of K. Mulligan, argues that hedonic valence –the pleasantness/unpleasantness of pleasures and affects– is a kind of value, namely a personnal value.


I worked on tactile perception, the perception of causality and the feeling of effort. I tried to defend the theses that forces are the primary and proper objects of touch, and that the experience of resistance to our will gives us a direct access to the mind-independence of the perceptual objects.

I also worked on the nature and value of pleasure: I tried to argue that these two issues are mot closely intertwined than usually thought. I think that pleasure is an inherently axiological phenomena: one of its essential property, pleasantness, is a value.

Current Research

In my thesis I address the following questions :

-what are the link between pleasure, desire, and the satisfaction of desire? Can we somehow reduce pleasure to desire ? Is it always pleasant to satisfy one's desire?
-are pleasure and displeasure contraries ? Is it possible to experience both at one time ? Can the same experience be both pleasant and unpleasant ?
-What is the importance of pleasure in activity? Does it always implies a pleasure in effort? If effort is intrinsically unpleasant, is every pleasure in activity a case of mixed feelings?
-are they different types of pleasures (joy, enjoyment, bodily pleasures, intellectual ones...) ? Are theses hedonic differences reducibles to differences in the content of pleasant experiences?
-what is the value of pleasure ? Is pleasure itself a value ? Does malicious pleasure still have an positive intrinsic value ?
-is pleasure intrinsically intentionnal? What are the relations between the hedonic value of an emotions and the value it represents its object as having?
-is pleasure essential to every affective states? Can some emotions be hedonically neutral?