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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.


Spring 2021

February 25, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Julien Deonna & Fabrice Teroni (Geneva)


March 4, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Roberto Keller (Geneva)

Norms, Errors, and Defects

The aim of this talk is to shed light on the distinction between two forms of badness stemming from norm-violation: incorrectness and defectiveness. These notions are closely associated and they can sometimes be used interchangeably: a misspelling can be properly described both as an error or as a defect in spelling. As revealed by the case of mental states, however, this is not always the case: to qualify a mental state such as belief as incorrect is not to qualify it as defective and vice-versa. This observation will serve as a starting point in the articulation of the different forms of failure which are respectively captured by incorrectness and by defectiveness. Through a principled explanation of the difference between these notions, not only will we be in a position to explain why they sometimes diverge and why they sometimes overlap, we will also be in a position to sharpen our understanding of the claim that mental states like belief are constitutively governed by norms.

March 11, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Sarah Arnaud (Montréal) & Jesse Prinz (New York)

The Relationality of Emotions

While emotions are generally understood as internal episodes, emotion researchers widely acknowledge that they depend on socialization and cultural environments, and many emotions are social in nature or triggered by social elicitors. There is thus an internalist and individualist theory of where emotions are located, and a more externalist and social understanding of the conditions that elicit and condition our emotions.

Though logically consistent, we think there is some tension between these views. A social understanding of the conditions that bring emotions about invites consideration of more externalist theories of emotions as well as methodologies that make external relations more salient. In this work, we introduce such a theoretical orientation and exemplify a new methodology for studying emotion recognition that is more suited to this orientation. It is our view that emotions can be fruitfully regarded as inherently relational, and that this relationality is also important for emotion recognition. We do not aim to refute the non-relational orthodoxy, so much as to make space for the fruitfulness of this alternative perspective. Viewing emotions as relations opens up new avenues of research.

We have two main goals here: empirical and theoretical. Empirically, we aim to introduce a new experimental paradigm for studying emotion recognition. We hope that part of the project will interest researchers of any theoretical persuasion. For us, this paradigm arose out of a theoretical stance. Our theoretical goal is to articulate that stance as a starting place.

March 18, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Rodrigo Diaz (Bern)

How do you feel about it? Emotional awareness and evaluative judgment

Most emotion researchers agree that each emotion type is associated with a particular value or evaluative property (Lazarus, 1991): Fear is related to danger, anger is related to offense, and so on. This way, my fear of snakes relates to the danger of snakes, and my anger towards racists relates to the offensiveness of their racism. Going a step further, some philosophers have claimed that our capacity to make evaluative judgments is based on emotion (Prinz, 2007; Tappolet, 2016). On this view, one cannot properly grasp the danger of snakes without having experienced fear, and one cannot understand the offense of racism without knowing anger. This view is known as (Value) Sentimentalism.

If, as Sentimentalism posits, evaluative judgment depends on emotion, a lack of awareness of one’s own emotions (i.e., Alexithymia, see Bagby, Parker, & Taylor, 1994) should lead to problems making evaluative judgments. Here, I present the results of an experimental- philosophical study showing that participants’ ability to identify their own emotions, as well as their tendency to think about emotions, significantly predict their ability to identify the value of emotional stimuli. This suggests that, in line with Sentimentalist claims, evaluative judgments are based on emotion.

March 25, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Elena Cagnoli Fiecconi (London)

Aristotle on Cognitive Conflict and Action Regulation

I argue that, for Aristotle, humans do not always control their actions by assessing the truth and falsity of perceptual appearances (contra among others Moss 2012 and McCready-Flora 2013). In partic- ular, taking an evaluative appearance (an appearance of goodness, or pleasantness) to be false does not necessarily restrain one from acting on it. Conversely, we normally do not act on non-evaluative apperances that we take to be false. If this thesis is persuasive, it suggests that we should look more closely at the way in which human rationality controls action. Its control, if it is effective, must go beyond its ability to discriminate truth and falsity.

April 15, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Jean Moritz Müller (Bonn)

The Spontaneity of Emotion

It is a commonplace that emotions are characteristically passive. As we ordinarily think of them, emotions are ways in which we are acted upon, that is, moved or affected by aspects of our environment. Moreover, we have no voluntary control over whether we feel them. In this paper, I call attention to a much-neglected respect in which emotions are active, which is no less central to our pretheoretical concept of them. That is, in having emotions, we are engaged with the world insofar as we respond to aspects of our environment. In this context, to say that an emotion is a response to x is tantamount to saying that x is a reason for which we have it. Elaborating this claim in light of a historically prominent conception of the active/passive distinction, I will argue that emotions are a form of spontaneity in virtue of their responsive character and contrast in this respect with perceptions, which are fundamentally receptive. While this proposal is prima facie opposed to the ordinary image of emotions as passive, I will show that it actually allows us to make proper sense of it.

April 22, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Federico Lauria (Lisbon)

Interest and the Affective Springs of Inquiry: The 'Chiaroscuro' Epistemic Emotions

Interest and curiosity drive exploration, information-gathering, and inquiry, hereby contributing to epistemic success and virtue. How are we to understand interest and curiosity’s epistemic role? This article offers an affective approach to this Spring of Inquiry Puzzle. We argue that interest and curiosity are experiences of anticipated epistemic value/reward or, if one prefers, of potential cognitive improvement (the “chiaroscuro” view). We develop this account with the help of three appraisals: epistemic goodness, epistemic gap, and high cognitive coping. This view offers an elegant typology of epistemic emotions. On the one hand, interest and curiosity differ from epistemic emotions of “darkness”, such as confusion, as the latter are experiences of cognitive obstacles or absence of epistemic value. They also differ from epistemic emotions of “light”, like eureka moments, i.e. experiences of actual epistemic value or actual cognitive improvement. Between darkness and light, they are the chiaroscuro epistemic emotions. We delineate our account in both metacognitive and first-order terms, which helps to address recent qualms concerning the metacognitive nature of epistemic emotions. This typology offers a new piece to regulative epistemology. It appears that interest and curiosity are vital in our quest for information.


April 29, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Laura Luz Silva (Geneva)

Do Emotions Play a Distinctive Epistemic Role?
Debate regarding the epistemic role of emotions focusses on whether emotions can provide justification for evaluative beliefs. A prevalent objection to the view that emotions can do so stems from the observation that, as emotions are reason-responsive attitudes themselves, it seems that those very reasons that stand in justificatory relations to emotions, stand also in justificatory relations to evaluative beliefs with similar content. The Superfluity Objection claims that emotions are epistemically dispensable in the justification of evaluative beliefs, for the very reasons that stand in support of an emotion can justify the relevant evaluative belief directly. Responses to this objection have been offered in the literature, but none of these responses secure emotions a non-superfluous, or indispensable, epistemic role. I develop a novel response to the Superfluity Objection that takes steps towards doing just that.

May 6, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Michael Milona (Toronto)

Perceptualism, Attitudinalism, and the Content of Emotions

Perceptualism is the view that emotions are perceptual experiences of value. According to perceptualism, emotions have evaluative content much as ordinary sensory experiences have empirical content; and it lends itself naturally to the position that emotion types (anger, fear, etc.) are individuated by their respective evaluative contents. Although perceptualism has gained substantial support in recent decades, it has also been subject to important critiques. This paper explores an interlocking set of objections called the Attitudinalist Challenge. According to the challenge, everyday ways of talking and thinking about emotions conflict with the thesis that emotions have evaluative content. Attitudinalist maintain that while perceptualists correctly identify emotions as evaluations, they are evaluative at the level of attitude. This paper defends and develops perceptualism in the face of this challenge. One key lesson is that perceptualists should deepen their analogy with sensory experience. For according to a plausible version of perceptualism, different types of emotion are differentiated by virtue of their evaluative content in the same way that different types of sensory experience (visual, auditory, etc.) are differentiated by their contents. A second lesson is that perceptualists should distinguish between the representational guise of emotions (which is uniform across emotions) and the formal objects of emotions (which vary). This distinction can likewise be motivated by the core analogy with sensory experience. Having argued how perceptualists should answer the Attitudinalist Challenge, the paper closes with a challenge for versions of attitudinalism that share perceptualism’s commitment to the view that emotions are evaluative experiences.

May 20, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Arina Pismenny (Gainesville)

Emotional Injustice

This paper, written in collaboration with Gen Eickers and Jesse Prinz, aims to explicate the concept of emotional injustice. This phenomenon takes multiple forms. We examine the ways in which social and cultural norms regulate emotional experiences, expressions, and ascriptions of emotional states to others. Modeling the concept of emotional injustice on the concept of epistemic injustice, we delineate three types. ‘Affective silencing’ occurs when unjust social norms enjoin individuals from experiencing or expressing a given emotion (‘boys don’t cry’; ‘girls don’t get angry’). Hermeneutical injustice occurs when the systemic oppression of a certain group results in their being deprived of concepts adequate to their emotional experience. For example, historically, under the medical model, female unhappiness was interpreted as depression, a mental disorder, even when it might have been better understood as a justified response to external barriers to flourishing. The third type we discuss is dynamic hermeneutic injustice. This is the misconstrual of a person’s emotional state in accordance with a stereotype. For example, white people often attribute anger to Black people who are not experiencing or expressing anger.

We have three main goals in this paper. First, to explicate the concept of emotional injustice, showing that some emotion norms are unjust, some conducive to justice, and some are neutral. Second, we identify several different kinds of emotional injustice, illustrating each. Third, we outline suggestions for redressing and mitigating emotional injustices.

May 27, 2021 – Thumos Seminar