Institut Jean Nicod

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Perspectives on affective evaluation


Atelier organisé par Céline Boisserie-Lacroix & Jérôme Dokic
Lundi 25 mars 2019
Salle de réunion, rez-de chaussée du Pavillon Jardin, Institut Jean-Nicod, 29 rue d’Ulm, 75005 Paris

Toute personne intéressée est bienvenue !

14h-15h15 – Christine Tappolet (Université de Montréal, directrice d’études invitée à l’EHESS), “Happiness as Affective Evaluation”, with Mauro Rossi

In this paper, we put forward a new theory of occurrent happiness as an affective evaluation. Our theory combines two main claims. The first is that occurrent happiness consists in a broadly positive balance of affective states, such as emotions, moods, and sensory pleasures. The second is that these affective states are all kinds of ‘felt evaluations’, that is, affective experiences of value. Together, these claims deliver the conclusion that occurrent happiness consists in a broadly positive affective experience of value. We show that our theory is superior to all the competing accounts of happiness, namely, hedonism, life satisfactionism and Haybron’s emotional state theory.

15h15-16h30 – Francesca Ervas (Université de Cagliari), “The effects of emotive metaphors on argumentation”

Metaphors play an important role in argumentation : a good argument might come from an effective metaphor and an effective metaphor might have an underlying good argument. However, metaphors are never “neutral” because they entail a framing effect that implicitly provides a specific perspective to interpret the world (Black 1954). Metaphors not only provide arguments with economy of language, greater vividness, interestingness, forcefulness, but also entail the communication of emotional attitudes and value judgments (Entman 1993 ; Lakoff 2014). Different metaphorical views on something can therefore seriously affect one’s reasoning and evaluation of arguments (Thibodeau & Borodisky 2011, 2013 ; Semino et al. 2016). In a previous work (Ervas et al. 2015), I argued that emotions are cognitive processes of framing and reframing as they influence our reasoning and guide our behaviour. Evaluative connotations entailed by the framing effect are present in metaphor such as “Poverty is a disease” or “Your boss is a dictator”, where specific “emotive words” (disease/dictator) are used (Stevenson 1944 ; Macagno & Walton 2014). I will present and discuss the results of a series of experiments, which aimed to study the role of “emotive words” of metaphors in argumentation. The studies investigated whether and to what extent the detection of a fallacious argument is influenced by the presence of a (conventional/creative) metaphor based on an “emotive word”. Participants were tested using a series of verbal arguments, containing either “non-emotive” metaphors or “emotive” (positive/negative) metaphors as middle term, i.e. the term that “bridges” the premises. The results showed that especially metaphors based on negative-valenced “emotive words” alter participants’ evaluation of the arguments.

16h30-16h45 pause

16h45-18h00 – Stéphane Lemaire (Université de Rennes 1), “Emotions in response to imagination and fiction”

There is presently a large consensus over the parallelism between, on the one hand, our emotional response to imagination and fiction, and on the other hand, our emotional response to beliefs having the same contents. The aim of this paper is to show that this parallelism is not complete and that the same content, whether imagined or believed, is sometimes appraised differently by the emotional systems and that this leads to different emotional responses. Why is there a divergence ? In a nutshell, the response is that emotional responses to imagined and believed contents depend on the probability that these contents may become real or may have real consequences on us and more generally on what matters to us in the real world. In other words, our emotions toward imagined and believed contents will differ whenever the probability of an interaction with these contents differ. This point secured, I will argue that this explains why our emotions in response to fiction may diverge substantially from our emotions in response to the same perceived or believed fact. The emotions are similar to the extent that we have some empathy with the character involved in the fiction. However, there is an important dissimilarity because, given that fictions have no causal interference with the real world, the fictional events will have a zero probability to have any effect on what matters to us in the real world. In contrast, this will not be always true if the events are real rather than fictional.