Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Andrea Scarantino - Chair

Second Advisor

George Graham

Third Advisor

Michael Owren


Among philosophers of the emotions, it is common to view emotional content as purely descriptive – that is, belief-like or perception-like. I argue that this is a mistake. The intentionality of the emotions cannot be understood in isolation from their motivational character, and emotional content is also inherently directive – that is, desire-like. This view’s strength is its ability to explain a class of emotional behaviors that I argue, the common view fails to explain adequately. I claim that it is already implicit in leading theories of emotion elicitation in cognitive psychology – “appraisal theories.” The result is a deeper understanding of emotional intentionality. Employing Peter Goldie’s “Feeling Theory” of the emotions as an example of the common view, I suggest that emotional feelings, too, should be understood on this model: emotional feelings toward items in the world cannot be disentangled from felt motivation.

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Philosophy Commons