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Philosophical Topics

Volume 47, Issue 2, Fall 2019

Emotion Regulation

James Sias
Pages 129-148

The Self as a Reason to Regulate
Dispositional Emotion Regulation and Shaftesbury on Integrity of Mind

Notably absent from much of the psychological literature on emotion regulation are attempts to answer explicitly normative questions about the phenomenon. It is one thing to explain how emotional states are regulated. It is another thing to say something about what reasons there are to regulate our emotions, whether and why we might sometimes be obligated to regulate our emotions, and how we regulate our emotions well, or optimally. This paper is an attempt at the latter task, focused specifically on a type of emotion regulation also receiving little attention in the literature—what I call dispositional emotion regulation. Dispositional regulation occurs, when it does, at some point or period of time significantly prior to the onset of affected emotional states or episodes, and by means of modifying the subject’s emotional dispositions. And it is done well, or optimally, I argue, when it is done with an aim toward achieving and maintaining a coherent and comprehensible self, in the sense Shaftesbury had in mind.

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