Département de philosophie

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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.


Autumn 2021

September 23, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Joffrey Fuhrer (Geneva)

What makes a life meaningful? Folk intuitions about the content and shape of meaningful and happy lives

During this talk, I will present the results of two studies about what makes a life meaningful or happy. It is often assumed that most people want their life to be “meaningful”. But what exactly does this mean? Though numerous researches have documented which factors lead people to experience their life as meaningful and   people’s conceptions   about the   best ways to secure   a   meaningful life, investigations in people’s concept of meaningful life are scarce. Through two experimental studies, we have investigated the folk concept of a meaningful life by studying people’s third-person attribution of meaningfulness and comparing it with the attribution of happiness. We draw on hypotheses from the philosophical literature, and notably on the work of Susan Wolf (Study 1) and Antti Kauppinen (Study 2), testing different factors such as morality, the life direction, having a goal considered important or being fulfilled (among other factors).   


September 30, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Juan Pablo Bermudez (Neuchâtel)

What is the feeling of effort about?

For agents like us, the feeling of effort is a very useful thing. It helps us sense how hard an action is, control its level of intensity, and decide whether it makes sense to continue or stop performing it. While there has been progress in understanding the feeling of mental effort and the feeling of bodily effort, this has not translated into a unified account of the feeling of effort. To advance towards a general theory, I defend the single-feeling view, which states  that the feeling of effort is one and the same for both mental and bodily actions. This feeling represents the expected costs, both mental and physical, of performing a given action. Cost-based approaches have recently become influential for the feeling of mental effort. Here I focus on arguing that our sense of bodily effort does not simply represent physiological processes, but rather represents the expected costs of a bodily action. Through this talk I discuss the role of the feeling of effort (and affective states more broadly) in action guidance and the sense of agency. I also discuss how the single view can help us in defining efforts themselves.


October 7, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Per-Erik Milam (Gothenburg)

Pluralism about Forgiveness
There seems to be a fairly widely held belief that there are multiple types of forgiveness—that is, many people seem to be pluralists about forgiveness. However, while pluralism seems common, it is rarely argued for. Sometimes it is mentioned in passing; other times multiple types are described without explaining their relation to one another. Moreover, among those who have offered apparently pluralistic accounts of forgiveness, the descriptions of the different types often hint at a deeper, unifying monism. My aim in this paper is to consider whether—and, if so, how—we should be pluralists about forgiveness and to evaluate whether any of the current accounts of forgiveness are pluralisms of this sort. I begin by explaining why (I think) many forgiveness theorists are attracted to pluralism. I then briefly describe the few explicitly pluralist accounts of forgiveness in the literature and contrast them with competing monist accounts. I then identify a variety of reasons for and ways of being a pluralist about other things, from moral value to species to gods. Finally, I consider which of these reasons for and ways of being a pluralist makes the most sense for the would-pluralist about forgiveness and I briefly make the case againstforgiveness pluralism and describe what I take to be the best non-pluralist option available.


October 14, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Stéphane Lemaire (Rennes)

How emotions evaluate

Beyond the contingency of people’s emotional responses to their surroundings, philosophers and psychologists have searched for some systematicity. A central and very plausible hypothesis is that emotions result from or involve an evaluation of their circumstances and in particular of their intentional object. A further thesis that is often assumed by philosophers is that this evaluation is in terms of values. This axiological view is upheld by judgmentalists, low- and high-level perceptualists, and those who think that emotions are responses to intuitions of values. However, I argue that the axiological view must be rejected because it must rely either on non-conceptual or conceptual representations of values while these are constructed from material outside perception. I then introduce an alternative view according to which the evaluation that is responsible for our emotions is conative and assess the relevance of objects to goals. One key point is here to make sense of the mental states that goals are supposed to be and their different links to desires and emotions. I finally consider whether this is just another version of the axiological view as some have claimed and show some potential normative consequences of the view.


October 19, 2021 – CISA Seminar

Constant Bonard (Paris)

The meaning of slurs: considering affects thoughtfully

CISA, Campus Biotech, 15:00 - 16:00. Room H8.01 D


October 21, 2021 – Thumos Seminar


This talk is followed by Roberto Keller's PhilEAs Talk.


October 28, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Juliette Vazard (Geneva)

Anxious hopes, hopeful anxieties, and emotional valence

For creatures like us, entertaining possible future scenarios of how our life might play out is often accompanied or “charged” with emotions like hope and anxiety. Both hope and anxiety necessarily require that one does not know whether the target event (the desired end, the threat) will in fact occur or not. While hope has traditionally been viewed as a “positive” emotion, anxiety is considered a “negative” emotion. However, insofar as hope involves an awareness of the risk of non-attainment of the hoped-for outcome, and anxiety involves an awareness of the possibility of non-occurrence of the dreaded outcome, these emotions potentially carry both a positive and a negative kind of evaluation, and thus potentially both a positive and a negative valence. Recently, some philosophers have indeed argued that hope is always constitutive of anxiety (Miceli & Castelfranchi, 2015), and that anxiety is sometimes constitutive of hope (Stockdale, 2019). As a result, it is argued, the valence of both anxiety and hope is not as clear as we thought. I call these two claims the Constitutive claim of hope and anxiety, and the Unclear Valence claim. These claims, as I will show, have important implications for questions regarding the relation between emotional evaluation and emotional phenomenology.


November 11, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Laura Silva (Geneva)

The Epistemic Role of Outlaw Emotions: Beyond Justification

Outlaw emotions are emotions that stand in tension with one’s wider belief system, often allowing epistemic insight one may have otherwise lacked. Outlaw emotions are thought to play crucial epistemic roles under conditions of oppression. Although the crucial epistemic value of these emotions is widely acknowledged, specific accounts of their epistemic role(s) remain largely programmatic. There are two dominant accounts of the epistemic role of emotions in general: The Motivational View and the Justificatory View. Philosophers of emotion assume that these dominant ways of accounting for the epistemic role(s) of emotions in general are equipped to account for the epistemic role(s) of outlaw emotions. I argue that this is not the case. My argument gives us reason to suspect that focus on justification in outlaw emotion cases may be misguided. I end by sketching an alternative proposal for the epistemic role of these emotions that is not justificatory, nor motivational. 


November 18, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Roberto Keller (Geneva)

Natural Goodness, Reasons for Attitudes, and the Normative Bedrock

It has become increasingly common to think of reasons for attitudes as the the building blocks of normativity. Various considerations can be adduced in favour of this view. Thinking of goodness or duty as reducible to, respectively, reasons to favour or to reasons intend can for example help us make sense of important normative phenomena such as normative supervenience, normative relevance, and normative guidance. This view can also help us find unity among different types of normative properties and explain why we see some important kind of discontinuity between the normative and the descriptive. The aim of this talk is to show that these views are put under great strain when confronted with instances of natural normativity—the normativity that applies to plants, animals, and life processes more generally—and that those who wish to understand normativity in terms of reasons for attitudes face a challenging dilemma.


November 25, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Kourken Michaelian (Grenoble)

Remembering as imagining the (nonpersonal) past

According to the simulation theory of memory, to remember is to imagine an event from the personal past. McCarroll has recently argued that simulationism is unable to account either for forgetting or for infantile amnesia. While this talk will demonstrate that the simulation theory is in fact able to account for both phenomena, its implications with respect to infantile amnesia, in particular, do suggest that modifications to the theory are in order. Existing simulationisms presuppose that one can only remember the events of the personal past. This presupposition now appears to be unmotivated, and the chapter therefore proposes a radicalized simulation theory that holds that to remember is simply to imagine an event from the past, regardless of whether that event belongs to the personal past.


December 2, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Bence Nanay (Ghent)

Two-state vs. One-state accounts of emotion
The Geneva boys argue for a two-state view of emotions. When I see a dog attacking me, I first have an emotion-free perceptual state and then this emotion-free perceptual state (the cognitive base of the emotion) gives rise to the emotional state. I argue against such a two-state view and outline an alternative, according to which there are not two, but only one mental state involved in having an emotion: a mental state representing both emotionally laden and not emotionally laden properties. In other words, emotions have no cognitive bases. 


December 9, 2021 – Thumos Seminar



December 16, 2021 – Thumos Seminar

Lubomira Radoilska (Kent)

Agent-Regret, Retrospection, and Tragedy

There is a trend in recent discussions to conceive agent-regret as a fitting response to bad moral luck, such as that of a driver who kills a pedestrian through no fault of their own. Following this trend, agent-regret appears to be a lesser kind of guilt evoked by borderline exercises of one's own agency: although not performed in the light of reasons, it seems callous to just shrug them off. This paper will take a different tack. It will be argued that in paradigm cases agent-regret is a fitting response to a transformative experience undertaken in the light of reasons, which however are subsequently voided by this experience. This approach has three advantages. First, it illuminates the crucial role of retrospection for shaping one's initial space of reasons. Second, it shows that agent-regret responds to exercises of one's own agency revealed as core rather than borderline. And third, it enables us to appreciate the distinctive nature of agent-regret, which is irreducible to guilt. To illustrate the proposed account of agent-regret, transformative agency and responses to it in the Athenian tragedy will be revisited in conversation with Bernard Williams's Shame and Necessity.