Volume 18, Issue 1, 2021
Are We Responsible for Laughing?
Suárez on Laughter’s Voluntariness
In his Commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima, Francisco Suárez offers a rich account of the psychology and physiology of laughter. Among other claims, he asserts that laughter is a voluntary act, without giving any further explanation. The aim of this paper is to glean from his texts a philosophically compelling argument for this claim. I will claim that for Suárez laughter is a commanded act of the will, since it somehow needs the will’s consent to be elicited. This kind of voluntariness is enough to make laughter morally relevant.