Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 11, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2004

John-Michael Kuczynski
Pages 65-72

Two Arguments Against the Cognitivist Theory of Emotions

According to one point of view, emotions are recognitions of truths of a certain kind -- most probably valuative truths (truths to the effect that something is good or bad). After giving the standard arguments for this view, and also providing a new argument of my own for it, I set forth two arguments against it. First, this position makes all emotions be epistemically right or wrong. But this view is hard to sustain where certain emotions (especially desire) are concerned. Second, this position is guilty of presupposing what it is meant to explain; for it makes emotions be a pre-requisite for the very value judgments with which emotions are supposed, according to that theory, to be identical.