Skip navigation
Hardcover | Out of Print | 320 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 34 illus. | August 2006 | ISBN: 9780262201643
Paperback | $5.75 Short | £4.95 | 320 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 34 illus. | August 2008 | ISBN: 9780262701242
eBook | $16.00 Short | August 2008 | ISBN: 9780262253826
Mouseover for Online Attention Data

Look Inside

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.

About the Author

Paul Thagard is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. He is the author of The Cognitive Science of Science (MIT Press, 2012) and many other books.


“As Thagard illustrates in this wonderful book, hot cognition ('hot thought') is a hot topic in the burgeoning field of cognitive science.... The vision is broad and deep, and the theories and supporting models tackle the role of emotion in mental mechanisms at levels ranging from the neuromolecular to the unabashedly social.”—Choice


“Impressively comprehensive, unfailingly sensible, and made all the more appealing by its hip-pocket readability, Hot Thought will be a godsend to instructors in philosophy and cognitive science.”
Patricia S. Churchland, UC President's Professor of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego
“The influence of emotions on thinking is currently a lively topic in cognitive science. In his unique work on this issue—combining psychology, philosophy, and computational modeling Paul Thagard has both analyzed real-life issues and advanced our theoretical understanding. This important collection of his articles should not be missed.”
Keith Oatley, University of Toronto


Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2007.