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.

 

Fall 2020

October 1, 2020 – Thumos Seminar

Raamy Majeed (Auckland)

What Can Emotional Plasticity Tell Us About Social Biases?

Emotions that are quick, automatic and pre-reflective are typically explained by positing special evolved systems in the brain, i.e. ‘modules’. This framework, however, is ill-equipped to explain such emotions when they are responses to social or cultural cues, as as evolved modules are thought to be incapable of undergoing any significant form of socio-cultural learning. In this paper, I propose a developmental framework to accommodate such emotions. In particular, I argue such emotions can be explained by developmental modules: modules that aren’t innate, but form as a product of development, and which are crucially shaped by our socio-cultural environment. I end by exploring the implications of this approach for tackling some implicit social biases. 

October 8, 2020 – Thumos Seminar

Rebecca Wallbank (Uppsala)

Puzzles of Trust

It is prevalently assumed that when another person fails to do as we trust them to, we will feel betrayed. In fact upon many accounts such a liability to feel betrayal is an identifying feature of trust. It is also prevalently assumed that trust leaves us liable to feeling gratitude when it is fulfilled. But this seems inconsistent. Betrayal arises when someone fails to do something which we believe that they ought to have done for us, but we don’t tend to feel gratitude in circumstances in which they succeed, instead we tend to feel satisfied and treated fairly, perhaps relieved. So which is it, is trustworthy behaviour something that it makes sense for us to be grateful for or something which it makes sense for us to simply expect? Let’s call this Puzzle 1. It is also prevalently assumed that being trusted is an honour and something we can feel insulted by in the absence of and yet it is also widely assumed that trust is offered by people with no real discrepancy as to whom they place their trust in. But why would we feel honoured by this? Let’s call this Puzzle 2. There are various other puzzles about trust, but in focusing on these two I’ll expose how they are symptomatic of various concerning, and prevalently false assumptions about the nature of trust, how it arises and in what ways it is valuable to us. In this presentation I’ll address these misconceptions offering, what I regard to be, a more plausible account.

October 15, 2020 – Thumos Seminar

Helen Landmann (Hagen)

The bright and dark side of being moved

Feelings of being moved (i.e., being moved, overwhelmed, stirred) can be elicited by helping behavior and close relationships. Some scholars therefore consider being moved as a pro-social emotion (i.e., elicited by moral virtue and enhancing pro-social behavior). This, however, may constitute the bright side of being moved only. I report a series of studies showing that feelings of being moved can be elicited by effort, collective efficacy, and martyrdom as well. These studies further show that feelings of being moved can be associated with collective action, appreciation of extremist propaganda, and acceptance of violence, thus exemplifying the dark side of being moved.

October 22, 2020 – Thumos Seminar

Laura Silva (Geneva)

Two-faced Anger

The orthodox view of anger takes desires for revenge or retribution to be central to the emotion. In this paper I develop an empirically informed challenge to the retributive view of anger. In so doing I argue that a distinct desire is central to anger: a desire for recognition. Desires for recognition aim at the targets of anger acknowledging the wrong they have committed, as opposed to aiming for their suffering. In light of the centrality of this desire for recognition, I argue that the retributive view of anger should be abandoned. I consider and dismiss two types of moves that can be made on the part of a proponent of the orthodox view in response to my argument. I propose that a pluralist view, that allows aims for both retribution and recognition in anger, is to be preferred. 

October 29, 2020 – Thumos Seminar

Alex Grzankowski (Birkbeck, London)

In what sense do emotions have content?

The majority position has it that emotions represent, and typically they are taken to represent things as instantiating value properties. But this positions raises a difficult question. Namely, how might emotions represent such properties? It seems implausible that they might track them, for example, and even the existence of such properties is a well known matter of dispute. Rather than answering this question directly, I want to explore the possibility of side stepping it. More specifically, I will consider the prospect of Interpretationism about the contents of the emotions. I think there are good reasons not to be an Interpretationist about the contents of many of our mental states (e.g. memory and judgement), but emotions look like a more interesting candidate. Rather than thinking of the emotions as information bearing structures that encode and store, I want to offer some reasons for taking the intentional stance. At the end of the talk I will to gesture at a more radical conclusion by asking why we think it is important that emotions have contents in the first place. 

November 12, 2020 – Thumos Seminar

Andreas Mueller (Bern)

Are there reasons for emotions?

Our emotions are subject to various forms of normative assessment and critique. This suggests that there are normative reasons for emotions. The thesis that there are such reasons is often endorsed and is presupposed, e.g., by the buck-passing account of value, but it is rarely explicitly defended. Most worked out accounts of normative reasons focus on practical or epistemic reasons. In this talk, I address some of the challenges for the attempt to extend such accounts to the case of reasons for emotions. In particular, I discuss accounts that draw a close connection between reasons and reasoning and explore whether, like intentions and beliefs, emotions can be regulated by a process that qualifies as reasoning.

November 19, 2020 – Thumos Seminar

Constant Bonard (Geneva & Antwerp)

Are the Belief-Desire Theories of Emotion Dead?

What I call ‘the belief-desire theories of emotion’ – BDTE for short – constitute a research program whose core commitment is that we can characterize, analyze, and better understand emotions through belief-desire pairs. BDTE were in vogue in the 1980s, but have since then been criticized heavily by philosophers working on emotions – I have listed no less than 36 objections. In the present philosophical landscape, it seems that nobody defends this theory anymore. The objections may have been fatal to BDTE. However, I argue, a modest, non-reductive version of the BDTE is safe from all the objections I know of.
The version of the BDTE I am thinking about claims that, in normal cases, an emotion episode involves a component – often called the appraisal process – which is describable as a mechanism whose representational components are belief-desire pairs and which constitutes a causal explanation of the other emotional components of that episode (action tendencies, physiological changes, motor reactions, and subjective feeling). I call it the Etiological Cognitivo-Conative Account (ECCA). 
After having provided reasons in favor of rescuing the BDTE research program, I briefly present the ECCA. I then expose the main objections to BDTE under four categories: (1) beliefs are not necessary for emotions; (2) desires are not necessary; (3) belief-desire pairs are not sufficient; (4) some extra objections. Along the way, I show how the ECCA is safe from them. BDTE may not be dead after all.

 

November 26, 2020 – Thumos Seminar

Jacques Vollet (Geneva)

Epistemic Akrasia and Justification

Can it be rational to be epistemically akratic, that is, to believe that p and that it is not rational to believe that p? Intuitively, no. However, you can have misleading higher-order evidence that your evidence does not support your belief. In such cases, we might think, epistemic akrasia is rational, for your evidence supports the belief that p and the belief that it is not rational to believe that p. But, if so, why is it that epistemic akrasia seems irrational?  According to a recent proposal, this can be explained by fact that epistemically akratic responses manifest the bad disposition to “fail to correctly respond to a special class of conclusive and conspicuous reasons” (Maria Lasonen-Aarnio 2020). I will argue that this explanation fails. I will suggest a different approach, according to which although epistemic akrasia can be propositionally justified (ex ante rational), it cannot be doxastically justified (ex post rational).

December 3, 2020 – Thumos Seminar

Tricia Magalotti (Rice)

Why do we care so much about emotional experience?

I have the intuition that a life without emotional experience would not be a life worth living. Perhaps this is an overstatement. But the slightly less dramatic intuition that removing emotional experience from one’s life would result in a drastic reduction in the value of one’s life seems to be widely shared. There is a special kind of regard that we have for emotional experience. However, it is not immediately obvious what is the source of the significance we place on emotional experience. In this talk, I will consider several potential explanations for why we hold emotional experience in such high regard. I will advocate for the hypothesis that the best explanation for the elevated standing that we accord to emotional experience is that it involves a special kind of value, the value of “feeling the world as it is,” where this kind of value implicates various different domains of value, including epistemic, practical, moral, and aesthetic.

December 10, 2020 – Thumos Seminar

Juliette Vazard (Geneva)

The Anxious Inquirer

 

December 17, 2020 – Thumos Seminar

Conor McHugh (Southampton)

Logic and Norms of Reasoning

Logic is often thought to bear some important normative connection to (theoretical) reasoning. But it’s not obvious how this connection is to be made out. As Gilbert Harman famously pointed out, one is not necessarily required or even permitted to believe the logical consequences of what one believes - after all, these consequences might be uninteresting, or highly implausible. Subsequent literature has taken up the challenge implicitly set by Harman: to identify a plausible ‘bridge principle’ linking facts about logical consequence to normative facts of a certain kind. My first aim in this paper is to argue that, by failing to clearly distinguish norms governing belief from norms governing reasoning, this literature overlooks one natural approach to thinking of logic as normative for reasoning. My second aim is to take some steps towards developing and defending a version of this approach.