Affective justification: how emotional experience can epistemically justify evaluative belief

Harrison, Eilidh (2021) Affective justification: how emotional experience can epistemically justify evaluative belief. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The idea that emotional experience is capable of lending immediate prima facie epistemic justification to evaluative belief has been amassing significant philosophical support in recent years. The proposal that it is my anger, say, that justifies my belief that I’ve been wronged putatively provides us with an intuitive and naturalised explanation as to how we receive immediate and defeasible justification for our evaluative beliefs. With many notable advocates in the literature, this justificatory thesis of emotion is fast becoming a central facet in how we conceive of the emotions’ epistemic role with respect to our everyday lives.

Interestingly, however, despite the fact that the justificatory thesis is fundamentally an epistemological proposal, comparatively little of the philosophical literature has been dedicated to exploring the epistemological avenues through which emotions might be capable of delivering such an epistemic yield. Accordingly, the central purpose of this thesis is to provide a novel and thorough analysis of how emotional experience might be capable of playing this justificatory role. Here, I present and evaluate three broad models of emotional justification: emotional dogmatism, emotional reliabilism, and agent-based views. Emotional dogmatist views, I argue, fail in virtue of being vulnerable to over-generalisation worries and problematic commitments to the contents of emotional awareness. Emotional reliabilism, while possessing the resources to avoid some objections, is vulnerable to worrisome clairvoyance-style challenges which establish the insufficiency of emotional reliability for epistemic justification. Finally, having learned our lessons from the shortcomings of these views, I argue that an agent-based theory grounded in the development of learned emotional competences provides the most plausible account of how emotional experience can epistemically justify evaluative belief. This discussion, I believe, will both illuminate contemporary discussions of the justificatory thesis of emotion found in the literature, and provide novel insight into the epistemic capacities of the emotions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Supervisor's Name: Brady, Professor Michael and Cowan, Dr. Robert
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82279
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2021 07:12
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2021 14:31
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82279

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