Philosophy Colloquium: " Does the Brain Respect Basic Emotion Theory?"

March 5th, 2021

Speaker: Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Research Coordinator for Medical Humanities at the University of Nebraska, Omaha

Basic emotion theory (BET) holds that humans innately possess a common set of basic emotions such as anger and happiness. Philosophers and psychologists have recently questioned the legitimacy of BET and its emotion categories. A major trend in emotion research conceives of emotions as psychological constructions rather than fixed biological categories. In this essay, I critique the claim that neuroimaging studies challenge basic emotion theory. I argue that extant neuroimaging findings are compatible with BET, and draw several lessons for the philosophy of emotion and for philosophical discussions about the use of neuroimaging to test the validity of psychological kinds.