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Dr Carolyn Price

MA (Oxon), BPhil (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon)

Profile summary

Professional biography

Carolyn Price is currently a Research Associate of the Open University, having retired from her post as a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy in 2019.  Her first degree was in Classics, and she has always retained an enthusiasm for Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. Having completed a BPhil and DPhil in Philosophy, she spent eight years as a Lecturer at St Hugh's College Oxford, before joining the Open University in 2000. During her time as an Open University Lecturer, she served as Head of Philosophy (2003-2006) and chaired several modules. She became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2018. 

Research interests

Carolyn's primary research interests lie in the Philosophy of Mind, and linking all her work is a broad interest in meaning and norms. In 2001, she published her first book, Functions in Mind (Oxford University Press) in which she set out a teleosemantic theory of intentional content. For many 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.

After publishing her book, she turned her attention to some fresh questions concerning emotional action, authenticity and the self. In 2016, she co-organised (with Manuel Dries and Sophie-Grace Chappell) a conference titled Owning Our Emotions: Emotion, Authenticity and the Self; and since then has published articles on the significance of regret and on the possibility of collective emotional action; Recent conference and seminar talks include talks on the nature of emotional action, presented at Glasgow University, and on the notion of a balanced emotional response, which was presented at conferences in London and Tartu (2017). She has also continued to work on the philosophy of mood: she spoke on mood, meaning and character at the Canadian Philosophical Association annual conference in 2018, and has contributed a chapter on mood to the Routledge Handbook of Emotion Theory, edited by Andrea Scarantino (forthcoming). She has co-edited (with Justin Caouette) a volume on the philosophy of compassion, published in 2018. 

Teaching interests

As an Open University Lecturer, Carolyn contributed material to a number of Philosophy modules -- most recently, the MA module A853, to which she contributed material on the philosophy of  emotion. She chaired the production of A333 Key Questions in Philosophy, and contributed three chapters one of the 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?

Carolyn was also closely involved with a number of interdisciplinary modules. She played a leading role in the production of AA100 The Arts Past and Present, and went on to chair the module for a number of years: she remained a member of the module team until the module came to an end. More recently, she was deputy module team chair throughout the production of AA100's successor - A111 Discovering the Arts and Humanitities. She was also academic editor for Book 3 Crossing Boundaries, to which she contributed a chapter on the philosophy of compassion. Among other things, the chapter compares and contrasts the views of the eighth century Buddhist philosopher Shantideva and the nineteenth century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. She also contributed a chapter on the ancient Greek philosopher Plato: the chapter introduces Plato's dialogue Laches, in which he considers the nature of courage. Her final contribution to Open University teaching materials was a short piece on Martin Luther's theory of conscience, which forms part of the first block of A113 Revolutions. On both A111 and A113, she worked closely with colleagues specialising in Religious Studies, enabling her to experience first hand the value and pleasure of working across disciplines in the Humanities.

Impact and engagement

For many years, Carolyn has communicated her research on the philosophy of emotion to a broader audience through talks, blog posts and short chapters in publications aimed at the general public. For example, in 2018 she contributed a short chapter on grief to a book exploring negative emotions (Shadows of the Soul. Routledge 2018) and in 2020 she published a short on regret to a collection which arose from a theatre project exploring the seasons (Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring. Staging Life and Death. Manchester University Press 2020). She has acted as academic consultant on a number of BBC documentaries, most recently a series of three documentaries on Socrates, Confucius and the Buddha (Genius of the Ancient World, BBC 2015). She has made contributed a number of pieces (mainly on ancient philosophy) to OpenLearn; and was academic consultant for Castle Forest Island Seaan online game which enables players to explore their views on the philosophy of rationality, while trying to escape from a rather peculiar island. 

External collaborations

From 2017 to 2019, Carolyn was co-editor (with Eric Walle) of Emotion Researcher: an interdisciplinary sourcebook for research on emotion and affect belonging to the International Society for Research of Emotion. 

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

Looking Back With Regret (2020-11)
Price, Carolyn
In: Banham, Simon; Brady, Michael; Hunter, Sarah and O'Shea, Renny eds. Summer. Winter. Autumn. Spring: Staging Life and Death
ISBN : 978-1-5261-4347-1 | Publisher : Manchester University Press

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