Evaluative Phenomenology and Evaluative Content
Michelle Montague (Bristol University)

part of: Mind & Morality Workshop
July 27, 2012, 11:00am - 12:00pm
Philosophy Department, Monash University

Philosophy Department Library (Room 916, Bldg. 11, Menzies West)
55 Wellington Rd
Clayton 3800

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In this paper I argue that in the case of conscious emotion there is a (logically) intimate relationship between their phenomenological properties and intentional properties. In considering this claim, I’ll restrict my attention to emotions that are intentional phenomena and are actual conscious experiences.

I begin by arguing for what I will call ‘evaluative phenomenology’—a sui generis kind of phenomenology that is associated with conscious emotions. The term ‘evaluative phenomenology’ is especially apt for my discussion here, because I take emotional experiences to be experiences of value or ‘value experiences’. That emotions are experiences of value is a central part of explaining how their intentionality and phenomenology are related.

I end the paper with a discussion of what role emotional experience may play in our knowledge of value. Does an experience of value give us access to a distinctive kind of evaluative content? If a subject has never had a ‘value experience’ is there something about value the subject cannot know? Granted, the subject doesn’t know what value feels like, but does not knowing what it feels like mean the subject cannot fully possess certain evaluative concepts, that the subject cannot fully know goodness and badness? I argue that correctly experienced emotions are necessary for (some) knowledge of value. Just as we may have intuitions about evident truths such as nothing can be red all over and green all over or about the validity of modus ponens, correctly experienced emotions reveal truths about what is good and what is bad.

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