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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

I am interested in the role played by natural kinds in the various forms of scientific study of emotion (the affective sciences). The question of whether emotion is a natural kind is not new in the philosophy of emotion, 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.

One of the leading alternative views claims that only more basic psychological states such as valence, are natural kinds, with the variety of emotional states originally recognised being constructed from these. 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. As this theory is considered the biggest threat to the unity of emotion, I argue that its rejection provides further support for the unity of the category. 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.


“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.

Other information

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

Teaching 2017/18

Philosophy of Science (semester 1) – Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind (semester 2)

Previous teaching

History of Philosophy (2016/17), Critical Thinking (2015/16), Mind and World (2015/16, 2014/15)

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