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 UniPhilosophes (PHIL001). 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 e-mail to the members).
- The Quodlibeta takes place on Wednesday, 14h15-16h00 at the IFAGE (IF408).
- The Phileas talks usually takes place on Thursdays, 18h15-20h00 (PHIL001)
February 2, 2022 – Supplemental Thumos Seminar
Artūrs Logins (Laval)
The Zetetic, the Affective, and The Junk
Gilbert Harman famously observed that "[...] if one believes P, one's view trivially implies "either P or Q," "either P or P," "P and either P or R," and so on." Moreover, he suggested that "There is no point in cluttering one's mind with all thesepropositions." (Harman 1986: 12). Recently, Jane Friedman (Friedman 2018) has elaborated on the suggestion and shown that it conflicts with a basic evidentialist principle that tells us that we are allowed to form beliefs when we have good evidence for the relevant proposition. In this paper, I consider Friedman's suggestion that the best way to solve the conflict is to give up evidentialist norms. Then, I explore a recent response to Friedman's proposal that appeals to norms of inquiry. Finally, I provide a new solution to the conflict that considers the role of affective states in clutter avoidance and distinguishes between (i) attitudes that are genuinely permitted and (ii) attitudes that would be nice to have (or to avoid).
February 23, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Julien Deonna & Fabrice Teroni (Geneva)
March 2, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Michael Cholbi (Edinburgh)
Empathy and Psychopaths’ Inability to Grieve
Psychopaths exhibit diminished ability to grieve. Here I address whether this inability can be explained by the trademark feature of psychopaths, namely, their diminished capacity for interpersonal empathy. I argue that this hypothesis turns out to be correct, but requires that we reconceputalise empathy not merely as an ability to relate to other individuals but also as an ability to relate to past and present iterations of ourselves. This re-conceptualism accords well with evidence regarding psychopaths’ intense focus on the temporal present and difficulties in engaging in mental time travel, as well as with the essentially egocentric and identity-based nature of grief.
March 9, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Jonathan Way (Southampton)
Defusing the Normativity Challenge
Philippa Foot famously argued that moral requirements might not be robustly normative. As she put it, they might lack ‘automatic reason giving force’. In this respect, she suggested, they might be like requirements of etiquette, or the rules of a game. Over the last twenty years, many philosophers have raised parallel worries about other kinds of norms. For instance, it’s been questioned whether requirements of rationality, and the norms of fitting emotions are robustly normative. In this paper, I aim to understand and ultimately rebut this challenge, especially as it arises for rationality, and fittingness. I discuss two sets of criteria for robust normativity, and argue that neither underwrites a strong version of the challenge.
March 16, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Michele Ombrato (Oxford)
The Temporal Ontology of Emotions: States, Processes, and Boundaries in Emotional Experience
Accounts of emotions often start off with preliminary characterisations of their target phenomena which emphasise internal structural complexity and temporality. Emotion episodes, we are told, are complex psychological reactions of the whole person–typically ranging across affect, sensation, attention, cognition, and motivation–which persist and unfold over time (cf. e.g., Mulligan & Scherer 2012; Robinson 2018; Tappolet 2016). Such preliminary characterisations naturally suggest an approach to the temporal ontology of emotions in terms of composite processes (e.g., Goldie 2012; Robinson 2018). Process-centred approaches, however, have been recently criticised for being unable to account for the synchronic and diachronic unity of emotions as conscious, person-level aspects of the mind (Soteriou 2018; cf. Stout 2022). The proposed alternative consists in treating emotion episodes as clusters of changes in various aspects of the mind associated with some single aspect of the mind, namely the emotion-viz., some nameable emotional state. The aim of this talk is to argue that such single-aspect approaches, unlike process-centred approaches, cannot account for the way in which emotions persist and unfold over time, and that the rejection of process-centred approaches on which they rest has been too hasty: one may in fact account for the unity of emotion episodes as composite processes provided that one specifies the causal relations holding amongst their various components. The argument will proceed as follows. Firstly, I will examine what I take to be the most developed attempt to do justice to the complexity and temporality of emotions within a single-aspect ontological framework (Soteriou 2018), and I will argue that it fails to accommodate some central aspects of the way in which emotions unfold over time. Secondly, I will elaborate the process-centred approach by uncovering and articulating the causal interplay between affect, interest, attention, and mental agency which takes place within emotion episodes. Finally, I will elucidate the relevance of these interactions to the temporal ontology of emotions–specifically, to the way in which emotions persist and unfold over time, their synchronic and diachronic unity and their temporal boundedness.
March 23, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Céline Boisserie-Lacroix (Paris)
Uncertainty, metacognition and emotional rationality
This paper proposes a new perspective on emotional rationality to defend that it would rely on metacognitive vigilance mechanisms. The starting point is the observation that if emotions are often deemed unreliable, thus linking us erroneously to values, this is because emotional situations present a certain level of uncertainty. We start by proposing a typology of situations of emotional uncertainty and highlight the most decisive ones from an epistemic point of view. We then show why it seems reasonable to suppose the involvement of vigilance mechanisms to account for the role of emotions in epistemic rationality. The investigation of their nature and functioning will occupy the rest of this presentation. We assume that vigilance mechanisms take the form of metacognitive feelings of uncertainty and show that this hypothesis is in a better position than competing hypotheses. Finally, by examining the epistemic properties of feelings of uncertainty, we show that the latter play a determining role to increase the epistemic status of emotions.
March 30, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
François Jacquet (Strasbourg)
What exactly is speciesism?
In the animal ethics literature, speciesism is defined in all sorts of manners: as a behaviour or a philosophical view; as necessarily anthropocentric or possibly centred on other species; as involving the idea that species membership is morally significant or compatible with the rejection of that idea; as necessarily immoral or possibly ethically acceptable. In a way, this variety is unobjectionable. Everyone is, to some extent, at liberty to stipulate the sense in which she will use a term. But this is true only within limits. Some definitions are good and some bad, and on which side of the divide a definition falls hinges on whether it satisfies certain desiderata. In this paper, I define speciesism as unequal treatment based on species and argue that this definition is superior to other extant accounts because it meets two desiderata: matching a good account of racism and making the concept of speciesism useful for discussing our duties to nonhuman animals.
April 6, 2023 – Thumos Seminar — exceptionally held at Espace Colladon
Neil Levy (Oxford & Macquarie)
Do People Really Believe Weird Things?
One possible answer to the question “why do people believe weird things" is "they don't." I examine the prospects for this response. I argue that many weird belief reports are insincere. In addition, however, people sincerely report believing things they don't believe. I examine how they come to mistake their imaginings for beliefs.
April 20, 2023 — Thumos Seminar
Florian Cova (Geneva)
What makes instrumental music (sound) profound?
In his book Music Alone: Philosophical Reflections on the Purely Musical Experience, Peter Kivy raises the following question: how is that we sometimes call instrumental music "deep" or "profound"? Indeed, on most accounts of what it takes for a work of art to be profound, an artwork is profound by virtue of its semantic content, and what it speaks about. However, instrumental music seems to have no such semantic content. But how can instrumental music be profound if it is not about anything profound? Several accounts have been put forward to answer this question: some have argued that pure music can truly be profound, while others argue that this is just an illusion. However, both types of account rest on psychological hypotheses about what makes music sound profound. Here, I will report the results of an empirical study in which I investigated the psychological underpinnings of people's experience of instrumental music as "profound". I discuss the implications for the different philosophical accounts in competition.
April 27, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Patrik Engisch (Geneva)
According to the consensus view in philosophy and psychology, creativity is a species of novelty whose differentia is value. This paper argues that such a conception of creativity must face serious problems that make it collapse into a value-neutral conception of creativity. It then argues that a such conception of creativity cannot account for the central notion of a creative practice and its essential tie to value. It then concludes that creativity must be conceived as two-fold: as a species of novelty contingently related to value and as a species of value contingently related to novelty.
May 4, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Miriam McCormick (Richmond)
Conflict without contradiction: Defending Doxasticism about Implicit attitudes and Self-Deception
Two phenomena that pose a challenge for a certain standard view of belief, and which are my focus here, are self-deception and holding implicit attitudes. While there are important differences between them, they are puzzling in similar ways. In both cases your behavior seems to indicate that you believe something explicitly disavowed, and we are tempted to ask “what do you really believe”? My view of belief as emotion can help illuminate what is going on in these cases. If beliefs are emotions, then what we find in these cases is a certain kind of emotional conflict. We can thus employ the resources of emotion theorists to help make sense of these kinds of cases. I will be defending doxasticism about implicit attitudes and self-deception. That is, I will defend the view that self-deceived agents, and those holding implicit attitudes believe both what they claim to, as well what they disavow. I will begin by offering some clarification about what I mean when I say that belief is an emotion, and then turn to a discussion of self-deception and implicit attitudes. Both discussions will have a similar structure. I will introduce earlier attempts to defend doxasticism, discuss problems that have arisen for these views, and show how thinking of beliefs as emotions can address those problems. Thinking about ambivalent or conflicting emotions can help us understand self-deception; thinking about recalcitrant emotions can help us understand implicit attitudes.
May 11, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Lubomira Radoilska (Kent)
The Value of Grit and The Affect of Despair
Contemporary analytic philosophers tend to see akrasia, or acting against one’s better judgement, as a problem of motivation. On this standard view, akratic actions are paradoxical since akratic agents know that they have a better alternative but nevertheless take up the worse, akratic option. In other words, akratic agents know what they are doing. They do not make any epistemic mistakes but – inexplicably – engage in behaviours that they correctly identify as wrong. The thought that akratic agents are not flawed as inquirers and knowers but only as affective agents plays a key role in turning akrasia into a textbook example of motivational only, or practical irrationality. This paper will aim to revise the standard view by emphasizing the epistemic dimensions of the phenomenon, that is, the ways in which akrasia affects both how agents understand their own involvement and how they handle evidence about their prospects of success. The ambition is to show that akratic agents typically rationalise their akrasia. They do not recognise it as paradoxical or irrational. Instead, they reinterpret it as separate goal-directed actions undertaken under conditions that are not ideal for them. This rationalisation of akrasia is closely related to another epistemically deficient habit: akratic agents pay too much heed to evidence that they are unlikely to succeed. In so doing, they display too little of what some philosophers have described as ‘epistemic resilience’ or ‘grit’, which opens them to recurrent despair. The upshot is significant for a number of reasons. First, it helps shed light on the relationship between the affective and the epistemic sides of akrasia. Second, it offers a fuller understanding of the phenomenon as a multi-faced process that unfolds over time rather than a sequence of paradoxical actions. Third, it avoids issuing conflicting normative requirements toward agents who, like the akratic, already find themselves in an irrational state.
May 15-17, 2023 – Imagination and Creativity
May 25, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Luke Russell (Sydney)
Have You Forgiven Me?
In this paper I address the following questions: Can I know when I have forgiven others, and can I know when I myself have been forgiven? Are these kinds of knowledge easy to come by? Are there specific circumstances in which victims or perpetrators are unable to know whether forgiveness has taken place, and is this lack of knowledge a practical or a moral problem?