PHL471: Davidson on Hume, and DeLancey c3
Davidson, Interpretationism as a form of Strong Cognitivism, and Post-Functional Actions
Davidson on Hume's Theory of Pride
- I doubt that pride is anything like fear or anger (that is,
I have no reason to believe that it is pan-cultural, inherited,
shared with other species). However, Davidson makes it clear here
and elsewhere that his account should cover all emotions.
- He next gives an analysis of what pride requires. This includes
- It requires the belief that I (the proud one) have some property
- I need not have a positive attitude towards the property, but
rather towards himself for having that property (a person could be
proud of their ugly house because they take it as a sign of their
lack of materialism)
- The approval we feel of the property is not just a feeling;
it is rather a kind of attitude (like a judgment). Hume claims that
our approval of the relevant property is a feeling; Davidson explicitly
rejects this and replaces it with judgment:
We may, then, interpret Hume's 'simple impression' of pride as the affective
aspect of self-approbation, or a judgment that oneself is virtuous, praiseworthy,
beautiful, or otherwise endowed in a postive way.
- Thus, Davidson argues "Hume surely did often, and characteristically, assert that a pleasant
feeling, or a feeling of pleasure of a certain sort, was essential to pride, whereas no
such feeling is essential; and, more important, such an element does not help in analysing
an attitude of approval, or a judgment"
- Strong cognitivism has always been the view that a body
state cannot be distinguished from fear or anger until we know
what the content is. However, there is also a second current:
nothing but reason and cognitive states answering to reason
can make sense of emotions, and so it would seem best to posit
that emotions are only or essentially the kinds of states that
reason is concerned with (like beliefs).
PE chapter 3
- Recall the tools available to interpretationism: we posit
a thing is an agent (rational), ascribe to it the beliefs and
desires it ought to have, and (for Dennett) now make
predictions about its future behavior.
- Interpretationism must be a form of strong
cognitivism about emotions. It is resistant to the issues
raised in chapter 2, however, since it is not a naturalistic
theory of mental states.
- Strong cognitivism might still seem viable, then, if we
were an interpretationist. This requires then a refutation
of strong cognitivism in terms of the posits of interpretationism.
- This is done with the common sense claim that there are
post-functional actions: emotional actions that continue beyond
the accomplishment of the satisfaction of the desires that we
should attribute to an agent.
- Two examples, posited as common sense examples.
- Attacking in anger: the rabid dog case
- Flight in fear: the snake-phobia
- The intepretationist cannot explain these actions
except to either claim that these individuals lapsed in
rationality, or that they have extraordinary beliefs (dead
dogs can be punished, snakes can open locked doors). Either
move would reveal that interpretationism is a theory treading
on naturalistic ground, but is unfalsifiable.
- The affect program theory offers a better explanation:
some emotions include a motor program towards a kind of action
(not necessarily to any particular goal).