Internal WiP: Dr Amna Whiston

The Normativity of Emotions and Emotion Regulation

Abstract: What is a fitting response to the perceived increasing risk of large-scale harm caused by a small minority? A short, uncontroversial, answer is: fear.  Given the normativity of emotions, and the fact that they can be fitting evaluative responses that are supported by the right kind of reasons, acting on such fears can be justified. Since the perpetrators of large-scale harm are often highly emotional, anger-driven, there could be good reasons to endorse certain interventions such as emotion regulation that include moral bioenhancement. But since anger, like other emotions, can correctly represent its object – it can be directed at injustice – even when it does not rationally mobilize the agent to respond fittingly to the disvalue of injustice, the right kind of externally imposed emotion regulation that aims at preventing harm ought to take into account the complex normative nature and role of emotions. This paper will argue that the emotion regulation strategies that allow an agent to better engage with evaluative objects have significant advantages over emotion regulation strategies that disengage an agent from the objects of their emotional attention, and will also consider practical implications of these two approaches.

This internal talk is for Oxford Uehiro Centre members and associates.

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