The Journal of Philosophy:
Navigating Recalcitrant Emotions
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In discussions of the emotions, it is commonplace to wheel out examples of (for instance) people who know that rollercoasters aren’t dangerous but who fear them anyway. Such cases are well known to have been troubling for cognitivists who hold the emotions are (at least in part) judgments or beliefs. But more recently, it has been argued that the very theories that emerged from the failure of cognitivism (perceptual theories and other neo-cognitivist approaches) face trouble as well. One gets the sense that the theory that can accomplish this will win a crucial point over its competitors. In the present paper I offer a new approach to making sense of the normative tension to which recalcitrant emotions give rise. Interestingly, the approach is one that can be adopted by anyone willing to grant that emotions are themselves governed by norms.