Hot Thought

Mechanisms and Applications of Emotional Cognition

Contrary to standard assumptions, reasoning is often an emotional process. Emotions can have good effects, as when a scientist gets excited about a line of research and pursues it successfully despite criticism. But emotions can also distort reasoning, as when a juror ignores evidence of guilt just because the accused seems like a nice guy. In Hot Thought, Paul Thagard describes the mental mechanisms—cognitive, neural, molecular, and social—that interact to produce different kinds of human thinking, from everyday decision making to legal reasoning, scientific discovery, and religious belief, and he discusses when and how thinking and reasoning should be emotional.

Thagard argues that an understanding of emotional thinking needs to integrate the cognitive, neural, molecular, and social levels. Many of the chapters employ computational models of various levels of thinking, including HOTCO (hot cognition) models and the more neurologically realistic GAGE model. Thagard uses these models to illuminate thinking in the domains of law, science, and religion, discussing such topics as the role of doubt and reasonable doubt in legal and other contexts, valuable emotional habits for successful scientists, and the emotional content of religious beliefs. Identifying and assessing the impact of emotion, Thagard argues, can suggest ways to improve the process of reasoning.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. I. Mechanisms
  4. 1. Mental Mechanisms
  5. 2. How to Make Decisions
  6. 3. Emotional Analogies and Analogical Inference

    Cameron Shelley

  7. 4. Emotional Gestalts: Appraisal, Change, and the Dynamics of Affect

    Josef Nerb

  8. 5. Emotional Consensus in Group Decision Making

    Fred Kroon

  9. 6. Spiking Phineas Gage: A Neurocomputational Theory of Cognitive- Affective Integration in Decision Making

    Brandon Wagar

  10. 7. How Molecules Matter to Mental Computation
  11. II. Applications
  12. 8. Why Wasn't O. J. Convicted? Emotional Coherence in Legal Inference
  13. 9. What Is Doubt and When Is It Reasonable?
  14. 10. The Passionate Scientist: Emotion in Scientific Cognition
  15. 11. Curing Cancer? Patrick Lee's Path to the Reovirus Treatment
  16. 12. How to Be a Successful Scientist
  17. 13. Self-Deception and Emotional Coherence

    Baljinder Sahdra

  18. 14. The Emotional Coherence of Religion
  19. 15. Critique of Emotional Reason
  20. 16. New Directions
  21. References
  22. Index