Massimo Marraffa Marco Viola

Which map for the emotional domain?

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Twenty years ago, Paul Griffiths (1997) published his well renown book "What Emotions Really Are?", in which he claimed that the phenomena designated by the vernacular word «emotion» does not belong to a single natural kind, and therefore no single theory of emotion can account for all of them. In this article we assess if his claim is still valid, by considering whether a unified account of emotion is provided by some more recent theories: Martha Nussbaum's neostoic theory, Lisa Feldman Barrett's conceptual act theory, and recent versions of basic emotions theories. We argue that, while each theory provides some useful insight on some specific subsets of the phenomena we call «emotion», none of them convincingly unify them into a single explanatory framework. Therefore, we suggest that Griffiths's original argument for pluralism about emotion is still sound.


  • Emotion
  • Affect
  • Psychological Constructionism
  • Basic Emotion
  • Affective Neuroscience


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