13th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Popkovacheva-Terzieva

Maria Popkovacheva-Terzieva

Emotions Play a Vital Role in All Political Processes

Currently, claims put forward by proponents of the schools of rationalism and rational choice theory dominate the public square. The two schools assert that political decision-making and actions should be entirely based on rational justification. This is so because reasoning is a universal faculty and provides grounds for judgment that are constant across people, free from bias, and easily deducible by everyone equipped with the faculty. Both schools take emotions to have the opposite characteristics from the ones immanent to reason, and hence banish them from the public square as a force that would cause conflict and uncertainty. It is the objective of this paper to dispel the theories put forward by the two schools and rehabilitate emotions as a positive agent for political change by showing that emotions not only cannot be dismissed from the pubic square because they are inseparable part of the cognitive processes that shape political decision-making and action, but that emotions should not because if cultivated and sustained properly they could improve the political process, especially during times of political change. Emotions are an undeniable force in all societies that affect many levels of policy-making, and their impact should be studied and understood.