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School of Social Sciences

Lydia Farina

Philosophy PhD

What's the focus of your research programme?

I am interested in the role played by natural kinds in the various forms of scientific study of emotion (the affective sciences). One way to define natural kinds is to view them as categories existing in nature which are discovered either by science or common sense. 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. My hypothesis is that we should accept that there are natural kinds within the affective sciences, whilst denying that these are the discrete emotions recognised by folk-psychology. I will, therefore, argue against both the dominant and the sceptical views.

My research will also examine the claim that sub-emotional states such as arousal, appraisal and valence are natural kinds. This is supported by empirical research and can explain correlating changes in the physiology and reported experience of human subjects in experiments conducted in the last 30 years.

What where you doing before you came to Manchester?

Before coming to Manchester I studied a BA in Classics at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and then an MA at University College London. I came to The University of Manchester to do a master's degree in Philosophy in 2008.