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Lydia Farina


Natural kinds in the affective sciences.


Research interests

Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Psychology, Ancient Philosophy

Research details

The question of whether emotion is a natural kind is not new in the philosophy of emotion and the various forms of scientific study of emotion (the affective sciences. However, there is no agreement as to what the natural kinds investigated within the affective sciences might be. The dominant, albeit implicit, view within both cognitive psychology and the neurosciences is that some subset of the discrete emotions recognised within folk-psychology (for example fear, joy and anger) are natural kinds. A more radical view would hold that there are in fact no natural kinds to be found within the affective sciences. Given a popular account of the relation between natural kinds and scientific enquiry, such a view would amount to scepticism about the legitimacy of much affective science itself. 

I suggest that we should revisit the question of the natural kind status of emotion without relying on basic emotion theory or essentialist metaphysics. I, therefore, argue against both the dominant and the sceptical views.  My research also examines the relation between socially constructed kinds and natural kinds. I suggest that rejecting essentialist metaphysical assumptions should not imply eliminativism of the concept of natural kinds. Combining an account of emotion as a social kind with an epistemological account of natural kinds I argue that the category of emotion is a social natural kind.


Farina, L. forthcoming “Can Machines Experience Emotion? The Phenomenology of Artificial Emotion” in C. Misselhorn and M. Klein (eds.). Emotional Machines. Perspectives from Affective Computing and Emotional Human-Machine Interaction. Series: Futures of Technology, Science and Society. Springer.

Farina, L. and Smith, J.  2018. A Puzzle About Emotional Robots. Institute of Arts and Ideas. View this article on the IAI News website.  


“Natural kinds in the affective sciences”. Presentation at the Annual conference of the European Philosophical Society for the Study of Emotions. University of Athens, June 2016.

“On the hhenomenology of artificial emotion”. Presentation at the Annual conference of the European Philosophical Society for the Study of Emotions. University of Talinn, June 2018.

Other information

I studied Classics and Philosophy at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (BA, 1999) and then University College London (MA, 2001) before coming to The University of Manchester (MA, 2008). My PhD is funded through the Goldie-Hamilton studentship award.

Teaching 2018/19

Existentialism (Semester 1) and Marx and Hegel (Semester 2).

Previous teaching

Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mind, History of Philosophy, Critical Thinking, Mind and World.

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