Département de philosophie

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The genevan research group on emotions, values and norms


♦ Thumos is proud to announce that Arturs Logins obtained a Ambizione grant from the Swiss National Foundation.

♦ Thumos is pleased to welcome Roberto Keller as a new student assistant for 2019-2020.

♦ Thumos is pleased to welcome Joffrey Fuhrer as a new PhD student.


Forthcoming events

The Thumos seminar, which is the main research activity of our group, takes place on Thursdays, 16h15-17h45 at Uni-Bastions (room B214). The schedule can be found here. The archives of the Thumos seminar are available here.

November 21, 2019 – Thumos Seminar

Constant Bonard (Geneva) - What Do Emotions and Moods Represent? Distinguishing Personal  and Sub-Personal, Narrow and Broad Contents


Forthcoming special events

November 13, 2019 - Quodlibeta

 Guillaume Fréchette (Geneva) - Competing Epistemologies of Scientific Imagination


November 14-15, 2019 – Workshop Affective States and Well-being in Clermont-Ferrand (info here)


 Recent publications

♦ "Emotion, Fiction and Rationality" by F. Teroni has been published in British Journal of Aesthetics

♦ "An empirical investigation of guilty pleasures" by K. Goffin & F. Cova has been published in Philosophical Psychology

♦ "Epistemic Anxiety, Adaptive Cognition, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder" by J. Vazard has been published in Discipline Filosofiche

♦ "Subjective Unpossessed Reasons" by A. Logins has been published in Thought
♦ Qui peut sauver la morale? by F. Jaquet & H. Naar has been published with Ithaque
♦ Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Aesthetics  edited by F. Cova & S. Réhault has been published with Bloomsbury

♦ Petit Traité des valeurs edited by J. Deonna & E. Tieffenbach has been published with Ithaque

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Schedule of upcoming events

On this page, we advertise the research activities that are of interest to members and friends of Thumos, especially the Thumos seminar, which is the main research activity of our group. Thumos seminars take place on Thursdays, 16h15-17h45 at the Bastions (room B214). Archives of the seminar are available here.

Members of the Swiss Doctoral School in Affective Sciences get credits if they participate to the seminar and their travel expenses can be reimbursed within Switzerland.

We also indicate events that may be of interest to students of the emotions or that happen on the same day : 

  • The CISA Lecture series take place on Tuesday, 12h15-13h15 at the Campus Biotech (seminar room will be communicated by email to the members).
  • The Quodlibeta takes place on Wednesday, 14h15-16h00 at the Bastions (room B101).
  • The Phileas talks usually takes place on Thursday in place of the Quodlibeta at the Bastions, 18h15-20h00.


Fall 2019

September 26, 2019 – Thumos Seminar

Arturs Logins (Geneva)

Emotions and Evidence

According to a popular view in philosophy of emotions, emotions can be epistemically justified. However, despite a widespread agreement on this general point, there has been little further theoretical development on how exactly to think about epistemically justified emotions. In this paper I hope to make some progress toward a better understanding of whether and if yes under what conditions can emotions be justified in properly epistemic sense. The question of whether it is (epistemically) wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone to have an emotion upon insufficient evidence will be one of the more specific questions that I hope to tackle in this paper.

October 3, 2019 – Thumos Seminar

Heidy Meriste (University of Tartu)

In Defense of a Unified Conception of Guilt

According to traditional analysis, guilt is conceptually tied to believed norm violations. This idea, however, has been challenged by various counter-examples. In particular, I will take a closer look at two types of counter-examples that have been considered as serious enough to give rise to the suspicion that perhaps we should altogether abandon the attempt to come up with a unified conception of guilt. First I will deal with the cases of, what might be labelled as, pure empathy-based guilt, for which it is allegedly sufficient if one is empathetically distressed about another person’s suffering and recognizes oneself as the cause of that suffering. For example, one might be said to experience such guilt about causing heartbreak by not reciprocating another person’s romantic feelings—even if one does not think that he/she is thereby violating any moral norms. Secondly, I will look at survivor guilt, especially insofar as it can be viewed as an example of the more general category of guilt over unfair benefits. Here, one is not even causally responsible for the death of other people, and it is even harder to see why one might construe oneself as doing something wrong. The aim of my presentation is to preserve the unity of guilt by showing that, despite the appearances, the alleged cases of pure empathy-based guilt and survivor guilt can nevertheless be explained in terms of perceived norm violations—or else, are better described as something other than guilt.

October 10, 2019 – Thumos Seminar

Vilius Dranseika (Vilnius University)

Folk Infallibilism about Justification

In experimental philosophy, attributions of knowledge receive much more attention than attributions of justification. In this presentation, I will attempt to look deeper into the folk concept of justification. I will argue, on the basis of a set of several empirical studies, for folk infallibilism about justification. I will also use folk infallibilism about justification to shed some light on recent research on Gettier intuitions.

October 17, 2019 – Thumos Seminar

Edgar Phillips (Fribourg)

Making Sense of the Unintelligible

Certain authors make a contrast between ‘intelligible’ and ‘unintelligible’ attitudes. The terms are typically unqualified, suggesting that intelligibility is an absolute notion and that any attitude is simply intelligible or not. I outline two ways of understanding the distinction, one fairly widespread, the other suggested in a recent paper critical of the widespread account. I argue that certain kinds of bizarre or weird affective responses to things can be intelligible (at least to their subjects and perhaps to some others) in a way that neither account easily accommodates. I offer a diagnosis—in short, that it is a mistake to apply the absolute notion of unintelligibility to affective attitudes—and an alternative suggestion about how to think of the contrast between the intelligible and the unintelligible with respect to such attitudes.

October 23, 2019 – Quodlibeta 

Hélène Leblanc


October 24, 2019 – Thumos Seminar

Olivier Morin (Max Plank Insitute, Jena)

Information in images

How do images carry information? This question, usually addressed by semioticians or philosophers, can be answered quantitatively. This talk will present a framework that uses information theory to study and predict how the amount of information that images can carry may evolve. This framework focuses on graphic codes—images conventionally associated with meanings, as found in writing systems, pictographs, coin designs, heraldry, digital communication, etc. It considers three forms of information that a visual symbol may carry: complexity, distinctiveness, and specificity. A symbol's complexity assesses the cognitive costs carried by the act of processing and storing it. Its distinctiveness measures to what degree it stands out relative to other symbols. Its specificity quantifies the degree of precision that it is capable of when pointing at objects outside itself. All three types of information can be tracked using measures derived from information theory. These allow us to bring an evolutionary and quantitative perspective to classical semiotic questions. Do letter shapes show a tendency to simplify during the evolution of writing systems? Do visual symbols face the same trade-off between informativeness and simplicity as natural languages do? How specific do signals have to be for communication to be possible? These questions will be addressed using a mix of quantitative cultural history, experimental laboratory work, as well as a large-scale online communication project. Beyond the particular topic of graphic codes, the goal of this work is to make the cognitive sciences relevant to scholars whose main interests lie outside the laboratory and beyond psychology.

October 31, 2019 – Thumos Seminar

Francesco Orsi (University of Tartu)

An explanatory objection to the fitting attitude analysis of value (Francesco Orsi & Andrés Garcia)

The fitting attitude analysis (FA) states that for objects to have value is for them to be the fitting targets of attitudes. The following paper presents an objection to the analysis according to which value and the fittingness of attitudes differ importantly in terms of their explanations. Whereas the fittingness of attitudes holds, inter alia, in virtue of both the properties of attitudes and those of their fitting targets, the explanation of value tends to have a different content. In particular, objects have value in virtue of the features that make them valuable and these need not involve attitudinal properties. If this is right, then there are reasons to doubt the claim that for objects to have value is for them to be the fitting targets of attitudes. Insofar as value is a property, it appears to be distinct from the property of objects being the fitting targets of attitudes.

The conference is followed by a Phileas Talk: Anne Meylan (Zurich) Bastions Main Building room B108 - 18.15 See here for additional info

November 4, 2019 – Emotion, Expression, and Language, a Workshop with Mitch Green

Mitch Green (University of Connecticut)

Benjamin Neeser (Geneva)

Cristina Soriano (Geneva)

Constant Bonard (Geneva and Antwerp),

The workshop consists of a main talk by Mitch Green, three shorter prensentations on topics related to Green's work by Benjamin Neeser, Cristina Soriano, and Constant Bonard,  commentaries on the three talks by Mitch Green, and a roundtable discussion.

Schedule and abstracts here.

November 5, 2019 – CISA Seminar (additional info here)

Luke Russell (University of Sydney)

What is Forgiveness?

There are many contexts in which people are encouraged to forgive. Forgiveness is praised by Christians, by therapeutic psychologists, and by political theorists. The moral and practical attitude that we ought to take towards forgiveness depends on what forgiveness is, but there turns out to be deep disagreement on this issue. In this talk I will explore some recent philosophical disagreements about the nature of forgiveness. For example, is forgiveness is an internal emotional change or an external behavioural change? Is forgiveness a conscious and intentional commitment, or can forgiveness just happen? Does forgiveness, like apology, have to be communicated? Is forgiveness compatible with continuing to punish, or does forgiving preclude further punishment?

November 7, 2019 – Thumos Seminar

Luke Russell (University of Sydney)

The Function of Blame and the Point of Forgiveness

Miranda Fricker has proposed that the function of blame is to create a shared understanding between victim and perpetrator. She also claims that forgiveness is the removal of blame feeling, and that forgiveness is justified whenever blaming is not the best available means of producing shared understanding between victim and perpetrator. In this paper I argue that blame is polyfunctional, and hence that Fricker overlooks a wide variety of reasons that count for or against forgiving. Just as blamers might be  trying to achieve many independent goals, forgivers might be trying to secure a range of quite different outcomes.

November 13, 2019 - Quodlibeta

 Guillaume Fréchette (Geneva)