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The Conceptual Space of the Affective Mind

English title The Conceptual Space of the Affective Mind
Applicant Reuter Kevin
Number 169484
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Philosophie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.02.2017 - 28.02.2021
Approved amount 473'838.00
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Keywords (7)

pain; affective states; concepts; emotions; experimental philosophy; normative dimension; common-sense conception of pain

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Emotionen und Schmerzen sind affektive Zustände. Um besser zu verstehen, wie wir als Menschen diese affektiven Zustände begreifen, wird die Emotions- und Schmerzsprache einer experimentell-philosophischen Analyse unterzogen.
Lay summary

Affektive Zustände wie Emotionen und Schmerzen haben eine positive oder negative Komponente des Erlebens. So fühlt es sich zum Beispiel schlecht an Kopfschmerzen zu haben und gut, wenn das eigene Lächeln erwidert wird. Fortschritte in den empirischen Wissenschaften können nur wenig darüber hinwegtäuschen, dass wir immer noch darüber rätseln wie wir als Menschen Schmerzen und Emotionen begreifen: Sind Schmerzen und Emotionen im Körper oder rein mentale Zustände? Beeinflussen unsere moralischen Bewertungen Zuschreibungen von Emotionen? Antworten auf diese und viele weitere Frage zu finden hat sich als sehr hartnäckig erwiesen, da die Sprache, mit der wir uns auf affektive Zustände beziehen, oft sehr unklare Strukturen und Verwendungsweisen besitzt.

Das Ziel dieses Projekts ist es unser Verständnis affektiver Sprache und affektiven Erlebens voranzubringen. Um die verschiedenen Dimensionen affektiver Begriffe zu bestimmen, werden Methoden der analytischen und experimentellen Philosophie verwendet. Angefangen von verschiedenen philosophischen Schmerz- und Emotionstheorien, wird
(a) analysiert, inwiefern diese Theorien empirisch adäquat sind, indem Vignetten entworfen werden, um die Intuitionen von Laien zu Schmerzen und Emotionen zu testen;
(b) durch die Analyse von linguistischen Korpora der Gebrauch von Schmerz- und Emotionssprache erforscht;
(c) der Einfluss moralischer Bewertungen auf affektive Begriffe getestet.

 Erste Pilotstudien deuten darauf hin, dass die gängigen Emotions- und Schmerztheorien nicht nur Lücken aufweisen, sondern auch falsche Vorhersagen über unser Verständnis von Schmerzen und Emotionen machen. Dieses Projekt zielt daher auch darauf ab einen passenderen theoretischen Rahmen für das Studium von Emotionen und Schmerzen zu finden und unser Verständnis darüber, wie wir unsere affektiven Zustände kommunizieren, fundamental zu verbessern.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 23.02.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Do people think consciousness poses a hard problem? Empirical evidence on the meta-problem of consciousness
DíazRodrigo (2021), Do people think consciousness poses a hard problem? Empirical evidence on the meta-problem of consciousness, in Journal of Consciousness Studies, 1.
Feeling the right way: Normative influences on people's use of emotion concepts
Díaz Rodrigo, Reuter Kevin (2020), Feeling the right way: Normative influences on people's use of emotion concepts, in Mind & Language, mila.12279-mila.12279.
Unfelt Pain
Reuter Kevin (2020), Unfelt Pain, in Synthese, 197(4), 1777.
Decisions against preferences
MesserliMichael, ReuterKevin (2019), Decisions against preferences, in 41st Annual Conference ofthe Cognitive Science Society, MontrealCognitive Science Society, Montreal.
Dual Character Concepts
Reuter Kevin (2019), Dual Character Concepts, in Philosophy Compass, 14(1), 1.
Putting pain in its proper place
Reuter Kevin, Sienhold Michael, Sytsma Justin (2019), Putting pain in its proper place, in Analysis, 79(1), 72-82.
You are just being emotional! Testimonial injustice and folk-psychological attributions
DíazRodrigo, AlmagroManuel (2019), You are just being emotional! Testimonial injustice and folk-psychological attributions, in Synthese, 1.
Estimating the Reproducibility of Experimental Philosophy
CovaFlorian, StricklandBrent, ReuterKevin, DíazRodrigo (2018), Estimating the Reproducibility of Experimental Philosophy, in Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 1.
Children and Adults Don’t Think They Are Free: A Skeptical Look at Agent Causationism
Huber Lukas, Reuter Kevin, Trix Caccione, Children and Adults Don’t Think They Are Free: A Skeptical Look at Agent Causationism, in Wiegmann Alexander, Willemsen Pascale (ed.), Bloomsbury, New York, 1.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Korea Institute for Advanced Study, Seoul Korean Republic (South Korea) (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS), Berlin Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Victoria University, Wellington New Zealand (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
European Experimental Philosophy Conference Talk given at a conference Do people think consciousness poses a hard problem? Empirical evidence on the metaproblem 19.06.2020 Prague, Czech Republic Diaz Rodrigo;
European Experimental Philosophy Conference Talk given at a conference The semantics and norms of assertion for pain reports 19.06.2020 Prague, Czech Republic Reuter Kevin;
XX Semana de Ética y Filosofía Política Talk given at a conference You are just being emotional! Testimonial injustice and folk-psychological attributions 12.05.2020 Palma, Spain Diaz Rodrigo;
Pain, Pleasure and the Method of Cases Talk given at a conference The concept of happiness 16.01.2020 Bern, Switzerland Reuter Kevin;
Pain, Pleasure and the Method of Cases Talk given at a conference The Method of Cases does the practically impossible: It treats the concept of pain like its synthetic predicate 16.01.2020 Bern, Switzerland Sienhold Michael;
ISRE Conference 2019 Talk given at a conference Emotions and the body. Testing William James’ subtraction argument 10.07.2019 Amsterdam, Netherlands Diaz Rodrigo;
EPSSE6th Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Distinguishing the phenomenal from the cognitive 10.06.2019 Pisa, Italy Diaz Rodrigo; Reuter Kevin;
EPSSE 6TH Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Basic vs. Constructed Emotions. Re-assessing the controversy 10.06.2019 Pisa, Italy Diaz Rodrigo;
Evaluative Language Talk given at a conference Two ways of being normative: Thickness vs Dual Character 07.05.2019 Paris, France Reuter Kevin;
CUNY Emotion Workshop Talk given at a conference The content and structure of emotion concepts 08.04.2019 New York, United States of America Diaz Rodrigo;
Kolloquium Individual talk The Folk Conception of Truth and Truth Pluralism 29.01.2019 Bochum, Germany Reuter Kevin;
AEFEX Second Meeting Talk given at a conference Emotions and the body. Testing William James’ subtraction argument 22.11.2018 Madrid, Spain Diaz Rodrigo;
Investigating the mind Talk given at a conference The folk view of pain 10.11.2018 Bochum, Germany Reuter Kevin;
Investigating the Mind Talk given at a conference The folk view of pain 08.11.2018 Bochum, Germany Reuter Kevin;
Investigating the Mind Talk given at a conference Emotion and Value: A Euthyphro Dilemma 08.11.2018 Bochum, Germany Diaz Rodrigo;
10. Kongress der Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie Talk given at a conference Is our concept of pain normative? 17.09.2018 Köln, Germany Sienhold Michael; Reuter Kevin;
Was ist Geist Talk given at a conference Warum wir nicht sagen, ‘zu glauben, Schmerzen zu haben’? 06.09.2018 Basel, Switzerland Sienhold Michael;
Experimental Philosophy Conference UK Talk given at a conference Is our concept of pain normative 14.06.2018 London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Reuter Kevin; Sienhold Michael;
Philosophy of Pain Talk given at a conference Is our concept of pain normative? 02.05.2018 Salamanca, Spain Sienhold Michael;
Philosophy of Pain Talk given at a conference How to fail to put something in your mouth 02.05.2018 Salamanca, Spain Reuter Kevin;
Testing Linguistic Intuitions Talk given at a conference Artists and Colleagues 16.03.2018 Hamburg, Germany Reuter Kevin;
XPhi Germany Conference Talk given at a conference How to fail to put something in your mouth 17.11.2017 München, Germany Reuter Kevin; Sienhold Michael;
Kolloquium LMU Individual talk Concepts in Social Cognition 14.11.2017 München, Germany Reuter Kevin;
Concept Learning and Reasoning in Conceptual Spaces Talk given at a conference Why conceptual processes are inherently experiential 24.10.2017 Bochum, Germany Sienhold Michael;
EPSSE 4th annual conference Talk given at a conference Wrong Emotions”: Normativity in folk concepts of emotion 17.09.2017 Madrid, Spain Diaz Rodrigo; Reuter Kevin;
European Society for Philosophy and Psychology Talk given at a conference Wrong Emotions 15.08.2017 Hertfordshire, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Reuter Kevin; Diaz Rodrigo;
Alternative Methods in Exp. Philosophy Talk given at a conference Conducting (and building on) fMRI research to inform philosophical issues 16.07.2017 East Anglia, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Diaz Rodrigo;
Experimental Philosophy Conference UK Talk given at a conference Detach the body, keep the pain 15.07.2017 Norwich, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Sienhold Michael; Reuter Kevin;
Kolloquium Individual talk Truth and Assertion 22.03.2017 Basel, Switzerland Reuter Kevin;
ECAP9 Talk given at a conference No knowledge required 20.03.2017 München, Germany Reuter Kevin;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Pain, Pleasure and the Method of Cases 16.01.2020 Bern, Switzerland
Experimental Philosophy Conference 19.09.2019 Bern, Switzerland
Emotions and Emotion Concepts 29.11.2018 Bern, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Wie denken wir über Emotionen und Schmerzen? philosophie.ch German-speaking Switzerland 2019
Media relations: radio, television Schmerz und Philosophie Radio Rabe German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Wie unsere Moral den Blick auf die Emotionen der anderen verfälscht German-speaking Switzerland 2017

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
181082 Dual-Character Concepts: Bridging the Descriptive and the Normative 01.09.2019 Eccellenza

Abstract

Affective states are states that feel good or bad. For instance, it feels bad to have a headache, and good to be happy about a reciprocated smile. During recent decades, the empirical sciences have made remarkable progress in getting to grips with affective states, e.g. by detailing some of the brain activation patterns associated with them. Yet these advances have cast relatively little light on a crucial question: How do we, who feel pain or feel happy, understand our affective states? In other words, what are the nature, content and structure of our affective concepts? Answering these key questions has proven difficult for three reasons. First, an analysis of our concepts of pain and emotion seems to disclose a paradox in our thinking about affective states. More specifically, we seem to conceive of pains and emotions as both mental and bodily states. Second, feelings of pains and emotions have (i) a sensory phenomenology, (ii) an affective phenomenology, and (iii) represent the world in a complex manner. However, our affective concepts seem to lack the structure to separate and denote these various aspects. Third, the standard view of the conceptual space in the metaphysics of mind has largely emerged from taking a purely descriptive perspective, neglecting the influence of normative considerations. During the last decade, however, philosophers and psychologists alike, have discovered that concepts like intentionality, cause, happiness, etc. are partially shaped by moral evaluations of the context in which these concepts are used. In a nutshell, our conceptual apparatus seems-at the same time-too sophisticated but also too simple and malleable to reflect the true nature of pains and emotions.This project aims to advance our understanding of the conceptual space of the affective mind, i.e. our understanding of how we conceive of affective states like pains and emotions. In order to specify the mental and bodily, phenomenal and intentional, as well as descriptive and normative dimensions of affective concepts, we will use an experimental-philosophical approach. Taking as a starting point various philosophical theories about pains and emotions, we will (a) study whether these theories are empirically adequate by devising vignettes to test people’s intuitions about pains and emotions; (b) investigate people’s use of pain and emotion language by analyzing linguistic corpora; (c) develop and test various hypotheses to investigate the influence of normative considerations on people’s affective concepts. Preliminary work already suggests that the traditional view about the affective mind is found wanting in crucial respects. By showing that the cognitive aspects of affective states have radically different features than traditionally assumed, we aim to produce a better theoretical framework for the study of pains and emotions, and to fundamentally improve our understanding of the way subjects communicate their affective states.
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