Moral moods Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Schellenberg, Ingra
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy
  • In this dissertation, I argue that moods can be intentional states, that is, they can be about something. I make this case by exploring the moods that underlie two psychopathological diagnoses: depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD). The view that moods can be intentional is counter to dominant positions in both philosophy and medicine. This project has three elements. First, I critically examine current medical approaches to depression and BPD. I distinguish two dominant models of medical practice and argue that many medical practitioners within both models (implicitly) deny the potential intentionality of moods. This results in a widespread medical mischaracterisation of depression and BPD. Second, I argue that the intentional features of those moods that underlie depression and BPD can be appreciated when one assumes the role first of 'affective reconstructor' and then of 'affective interlocutor.' Affective reconstructors explore the origins of someone's mood with the aim of identifying its intentional object(s). If an intentional object is found, one can assume the role of affective interlocutor. In that role one actively engages with the mood experiencer, carefully considering whether those intentional object(s) fit appropriately with the mood. Third, once the moods that underlie depression and BPD are seen as potentially intentional, I argue that they may be 'moral moods.' I use case studies of sufferers of depression and BPD, particularly the character of Sophie (from William Styron's novel Sophie's Choice) and Lilah, a composite of several patients diagnosed with BPD. I argue that their moods are responses to moral violation. Non-intentional accounts of moods, either philosophical or medical, will fail to acknowledge the moral dimension of these moods. I argue that this is a substantial failure, both for Sophie and Lilah and also for those around them, who will miss the opportunity to fully understand their experiences.
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  • In Copyright
  • Prinz, Jesse J.
  • Open access

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