Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Basic Emotion Theory: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Andrea Scarantino, Georgia State University
5:30 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract: Basic Emotion Theory holds that emotions have an evolutionary origin and are characterized by distinctive biological markers. In recent years, psychological constructionists such as Lisa Barrett and Jim Russell have argued that basic emotion theorists are mistaken in conceptualizing emotions as biological adaptations. They have presented empirical evidence according to which basic emotions such as anger and fear lack the sort of neural, phenomenological, behavioral, expressive, and physiological markers that basic emotion theorists commonly associate with them. On the constructionist proposal, the proper way to scientifically study emotions is to find more primitive building blocks out of which emotions are built (e.g. pleasure, arousal, etc.), and study their correlates in the brain and body. I will arbitrate this dialectic and offer some general recipes for the scientific study of emotions.