Rowland Stout and Mitchell Green on Perceiving Faces/Emotions


The recently published 2010 Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume contains two essays which I thought might interest some of our readers. They are by Rowland Stout (Philosophy, University College Dublin) and Mitchell Green (Philosophy, University of Virginia), and they are both about the perception of emotions, in particular the perception of emotions in the expressions of the human face. Prof. Stout’s essay is entitled “Seeing the Anger in Someone’s Face”; to access it, please click here. Prof. Green’s essay is entitled “Perceiving Emotions”; to access it, please click here.

Here is the abstract for Prof. Stout’s essay:

Starting from the assumption that one can literally perceive someone’s anger in their face, I argue that this would not be possible if what is perceived is a static facial signature of their anger. There is a product–process distinction in talk of facial expression, and I argue that one can see anger in someone’s facial expression only if this is understood to be a process rather than a product.

And here is the abstract for Prof. Green’s essay:

I argue that it is possible literally to perceive the emotions of others. This account depends upon the possibility of perceiving a whole by perceiving one or more of its parts, and upon the view that emotions are complexes. After developing this account, I expound and reply to Rowland Stout’s challenge to it. Stout is nevertheless sympathetic with the perceivability-of-emotions view. I thus scrutinize Stout’s suggestion for a better defence of that view than I have provided, and offer a refinement of my own proposal that incorporates some of his insights.

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