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Dr Carolyn Price

Profile summary

Professional biography

Carolyn Price joined the Open University in February 2000, having spent eight years as a Lecturer and Tutor at St Hugh’s College, Oxford. Her research interests lie in the Philosophy of Mind. In 2001, she published her first book, Functions in Mind (Oxford University Press) in which she set out a teleosemantic theory of content. In recent years, her research has focused primarily on the philosophy of emotion: she has published a series of articles and chapters on (for example) the nature of emotion, the distinction between emotion and moods, the intentional properties of emotion, as well as the nature and value of particular emotions, such as love and grief. In 2015, she published a book Emotion (Polity Press) in which she presents an account of emotion as a functional response to the world. Linking all her work together is a broader interest in meaning and norms.

Research interests

Carolyn's current research activities draw together a number of themes in the philosophy of emotion. She is currently working on a clutch of related issues concerning emotional action, authenticity and the self. In connection with these interests, she recently co-organised (with Manuel Dries and Sophie-Grace Chappell) a conference titled Owning Our Emotions: Emotion, Authenticity and the Self. In addition, she continues to be interested in the ways in which particular emotions, such as love, grief, anger and regret, contribute to our well-being and in what might constitute fitting, balanced and healthy emotional responses to the world. 


See also Open Research Online for further details of Carolyn Price’s research publications. For preprints of many of her papers, visit her page on


Emotion. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2015.

Functions in Mind: A Theory of Intentional Content. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.


Journal articles and book chapters

'Collective emotion and the function of expressive behaviour' in The Expression of Emotion: Philosophical , Psychological and Legal Perspectives, edited by Catharine Abell and Joel Smith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016: 115-134.

The problem of emotional significance’ in Acta Analytica, 2013, Vol. 28, no. 2: 189-206.

Doing without emotions’ in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 2012, Vol. 93, no. 3: 317-337.

What is the point of love?’ in International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 2012, Vol. 20, no 2: 217-237.

The rationality of grief’ in Inquiry, 2010,  20-40.

‘Affect without object: moods and objectless emotions’ in European Journal of Analytic Philosophy, 2006, Vol. 2, no. 1: 49-68.

‘Fearing Fluffy: the content of an emotional appraisal’ in Teleosemantics, edited by Graham MacDonald and David Papineau. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006: 208-228.

'Artificial functions and the meaning of literary works', British Journal of Aesthetics 43 (1), January 2003: 1-17.

'Rationality, biology and optimality*', Biology and Philosophy 17 (5), November 2002: 613-34.

'General-purpose content' in International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 14 (2), May 2000:123-135.

'Determinate functions' in Nous 32 (1), March 1998: 54-75.

'Function, perception and normal causal chains' in Philosophical Studies 89, January, 1998: 31-51.

'Functional explanations and natural norms' in Ratio 8(2), September 1995: 143-160.


Other publications

Review of Emotional Insight: The Epistemic Role of Emotional Experience by Michael S. Brady in Mind Vol. 124, no. 496: 1240-1244.

‘Teleosemantics re-examined: content, explanation and norms’ (Essay review of Millikan and Her Critics, edited by Dan Ryder, Justine Kingsbury and Kenneth Williford) in Biology and Philosophy, published online February 2014.

Review of The World in the Head by Robert Cummins in Mind, 2012, Vol. 121, no. 481: 169-172.

Review of Embodiment Emotion and Cognition by Michelle Maiese in Philosophical Quarterly, 2012, Vol. 62, issue 246: 202-204.

Review of The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Emotion edited by Peter Goldie in European Journal of Philosophy, 2011, Vol. 19 no. 4: 630-633.

Review of Functional Beauty by Glenn Parsons and Allen Carlson in British Journal of Aesthetics, 2010, Vol. 50, no. 2: 215-218.

Review of Teleological Realism by Scott Sehon in Philosophical Quarterly 2007 Vol.57, no. 228: 501-503.

Review of Language: A Biological Model by Ruth Millikan in Mind, 2007, Vol. 116, no. 463:  766-9.

Review of The Pursuit of Unhappiness: The Elusive Psychology of Well-Being by Dan Haybron in Philosophy, 2009, Vol. 84, no. 330: 624-629.

Entry on ‘Emotion’ in the Continuum Encyclopaedia of British Philosophy, edited by Anthony Grayling, Andrew Pyle and Naomi Goulding, London: Thoemmes Continuum, 2006.

Recent conference and workshop presentations

'Acting out of emotion and acting for a reason', presented at a Mind Network Meeting at the University of Sheffield, 2016.

'Authenticity: emotions, values and likes', presented at Owning our Emotions: Emotion, Authenticity and The Self, Open University, 2016.

'Emotional significance: a teleosemantic perspective', presented at Philosophy of Biology in the UK, University of Bristol, 2016.

‘Emotion, perception, and recalcitrance’, presented at a workshop on Emotion and Belief, University of Birmingham.

'Expressing and Sharing' presented at a conference on Emotion and Expression, The University of Manchester, June 2013.

‘Teleosemantics and the problem of emotional significance’ presented at a workshop on teleosemantics today, Friedrich-Alexander Universität, Erlangen Nürnberg, February 2012.

‘Truth: aim or function?’ presented at a conference on the aims of inquiry and cognition, University of Edinburgh, May 2012


Teaching interests

Carolyn has contributed material to a number of modules -- including A219, A222 and A850.She was closely involved in the production of AA100 The arts past and present: she was academic editor for Book 2 Tradition and dissent and contributed a chapter on Plato’s Laches, as well as some material on Epicurus and Aristotle for a chapter on the philosophy of leisure. She is still a member of the module team and enjoys meeting AA100 students at day schools and through guest forums. More recently, she chaired the production of A333 Key Questions in Philosophy. She also contributed three chapters one of the A333 module books -- Knowledge and Reason. In these chapters, she considers two questions about rationality. (1) What does it mean to think in a rational way? (Is it just a matter of reasoning logically, for example?) (2) Is it ever rational to take someone's word for something -- and if so, why, exactly? She also chaired the module through its first year of presentation, which (among other things) involved her in discussions about the definition of art, the morality of war, and the attractions (if any) of living forever.

Carolyn has recently become co-editor of Emotion Researcher: a sourcebook for research on emotion and affect belonging to the International Society for Research of Emotion. Her fellow editor is Eric Walle at UC Merced.

Externally funded projects

Philosophy Conference - The Mind Association
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Sep 201630 Sep 2016Mind Association

How do emotions relate to the self? On one possible view, emotions stand outside the self: they reflect biological drives or cultural demands independent of – perhaps even inimical to – the subject’s own interests or values; when we act out of emotion, we are driven to act by psychological forces external to ourselves. But on another view, our emotional dispositions help to constitute who we are; words and deeds that come ‘from the heart’ are judged to have a special kind of worth, arising from their authenticity. In everyday contexts, people seem to think about emotion in both these ways, depending on the situation. But can these two views be reconciled? And if not, which view comes closer to the truth? The purpose of this conference is to throw light on these questions, capitalising on the progress that has been made in the philosophy of emotion in recent years, as well as drawing on studies in the history of philosophy and on a range of philosophical traditions. Keynote speakers include Professor Kristján Kristjánsson, University of Birmingham; Professor Denis McManus, University of Southampton; Professor Monika Betzler, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich; Dr Jonathan Webber, University of Cardiff; Professor Fabrice Teroni, University of Geneva. The conference is organized by the Philosophy Department of the Open University in conjunction with Department’s Reasons and Norms research group. It is partly funded by the Mind Association and supported by the Institute of Philosophy.


The Many Flavours of Regret (2020-04)
Price, Carolyn
The Monist, 103(2) (pp. 147-162)

[Book Review] Teleosemantics re-examined: content, explanation and norms (2014-07)
Price, Carolyn
Biology and Philosophy, 29(4) (pp. 587-596)

The problem of emotional significance (2013-06-02)
Price, Carolyn
Acta Analytica, 28(2) (pp. 189-206)

Doing without emotions (2012-09)
Price, Carolyn
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 93(3) (pp. 317-337)

What is the point of love? (2012)
Price, Carolyn
International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 20(2) (pp. 217-237)

The rationality of grief (2010-02)
Price, Carolyn
Inquiry, 53(1) (pp. 20-40)

Affect without object: moods and objectless emotions (2006)
Price, Carolyn
European Journal of Analytic Philosophy, 2(1) (pp. 49-68)

Artificial functions and the meaning of literary works (2003-01)
Price, Carolyn
Astronomy & Geophysics, 43(1) (pp. 1-17)

Rationality, biology and optimality (2002-11-01)
Price, Carolyn
Biology and Philosophy, 17(5) (pp. 613-634)

General-purpose content (2000)
Price, Carolyn
International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 14(2) (pp. 123-133)

Emotion (2015-06-30)
Price, Carolyn
Key Concepts in Philosophy
ISBN : 978-0-7456-5635-9 | Publisher : Polity Press | Published : Cambridge, UK

Functions in mind: a theory of intentional content (2001-06-07)
Price, Carolyn
ISBN : 0-19-924200-3 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford, UK

Grief (2018-01-24)
Price, Carolyn
In: Tappolet, Christine; Teroni, Fabrice and Konzelmann Ziv, Anita eds. Shadows of the Soul: Philosophical Perspectives on Negative Emotions (pp. 105-112)
ISBN : 978-1-138-68969-5 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : New York

Collective emotion and the function of expressive behaviour (2016-09-30)
Price, Carolyn
In: Abell, Catherine and Smith, Joel eds. The Expression of Emotion: Philosophical, Psychological and Legal Perspectives (pp. 115-136)
ISBN : 9781107111059 | Publisher : Cambridge University Press | Published : Cambridge

Fearing Fluffy: The Content of an emotional appraisal (2006-09-28)
Price, Carolyn
In: Macdonald, Graham and Papineau, David eds. Teleosemantics (pp. 208-228)
ISBN : 0-19-927026-0 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford, UK

The Moral Psychology of Compassion (2018-03)
Caouette, Justin and Price, Carolyn eds.
Moral Psychology of the Emotions
ISBN : 9781786604187 | Publisher : Rowman and Littlefield International | Published : London