Présentation intitulée « What are the emotions? Physiological vs. Conceptual approaches ».
In order to elucidate the nature of emotions, researchers rely on two main methodological approaches. Physiological approaches focus on the empirical data regarding emotions’ physiology. Conceptual approaches focus on our understanding of emotion, or folk emotion concepts. Because the extension of folk emotion concepts is too heterogenous to make generalizations regarding physiology, some authors in the Physiological approach have advocated for the elimination of folk emotion concepts from our research toolkit. Conversely, because our understanding of emotion cannot be fully explained in terms of physiology, some researchers in the Conceptual approach have disregarded data on emotions’ physiology. The overall result is a stark divide: physiological approaches ignore folk emotion concepts, and conceptual approaches ignore emotions’ physiology. In this paper, I will argue that this outcome is not warranted. That the extension of folk emotion concepts is physiologically heterogenous does not warrant ignoring conceptual investigations, as physiological investigations depend on folk emotion concepts in order to operationalize emotion. Similarly, rejecting physiological reductionism does not warrant ignoring physiological data, as we still acknowledge that the mind and the body are in relation to each other. Thus, when trying to elucidate the nature of emotion, we must carry physiological and conceptual investigations hand in hand. I will conclude by proposing experimental-philosophical research as a way of bridging the two methodological agendas.