The informational profile of valence: The metasemantic argument for imperativism


Some mental states have valence—they are pleasant or unpleasant. According to imperativism, valence depends on imperative content, while evaluativism tells us that it depends on evaluative content. We argue that if one considers valence’s informational profile, it becomes evident that imperativism is superior to evaluativism. More precisely, we show that if one applies the best available metasemantics to the role played by (un)pleasant mental states in our cognitive economy, then these states turn out to have imperative rather than evaluative content, since: (i) they are much more informative about behaviour than they are about the world; and (ii) they occupy a stage in the information-processing chain that is closer to behaviour production than it is to the uptake of sensory information. This is our metasemantic argument for imperativism.

Forthcoming in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science