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Philosophy Speakers ALUMNI SERIES: Jay Odenbaugh (Lewis & Clark), "Ties that Bind: Emotions as Natural Kinds"

Date & Time:
January 29, 2016 | 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Social Sciences Tower, Room 1253

Alumni Series 2016 Speaker

About the Talk

Psychologist Paul Ekman and his colleagues have argued there are at least six basic emotions. They are fear, anger, disgust, enjoyment, sadness, and surprise. These emotions are what he calls “affect programs.” We can construct a syllogism from Ekman's work and some metaphysics that these emotions are natural kinds. Emotions are affect programs.
 Affect programs are natural kinds. Therefore, emotions are natural kinds. On an independently plausible account of natural kinds, the second premise is true. However, there are two powerful critiques offered of the first premise. Psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett argues, in effect, that there are no affect programs. Thus, whatever else emotions might be, they aren't that. Philosopher Paul Griffiths argues that though there are affect programs, emotions are not affect programs. This is so because there are putative emotions that are not affect programs. The concept EMOTION does not designate a natural kind nor do ones like ANGER, SADNESS, and so forth. Barrett offers a different account of what emotions are and Griffiths argues there are none. I will argue that both are incorrect. Emotions are natural kinds.

About the Speaker

Jay Odenbaugh (PhD UCalgary 2001) is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.  He is at UCalgary during Winter Term 2016 as a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Philosophy of Science.  His research interests include the history and philosophy of science (especially ecology and evolution), metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics. He also has a particular interest in American pragmatists and their descendants.  

Odenbaugh's Lewis & Clark website

Odenbaugh's website at squarespace

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