I have considered much of the responses here, and I would suggest that most people here have missed the point when answering the question about emotions.
The problems is, scientists keep looking for a single solution as to what emotions are. This is akin to looking for a single shape that will fit all different shaped slots.
Also, what is ignored is that animals are just as capable of emotions and emotional states as we are:
When looking on Youtube for insects fighting each other, or competing or courting, it should be clear that simple creatures experience them too!
When I challenge people about emotions, I suggest to them to go to Corinthians 13 - which describes the attributes of love. If you consider all those attributes, one should notice that an actual "feeling" is not required for fulfilling any of them.
Therefore, the suggestion that a psychopath lacks emotions, and so he commits crimes or other pursuits outside of "normal" boundaries is far from true, especially when one considers the various records left to us from court cases and perhaps psychological evaluation - which show us that they do act out of "strong" emotions.
It should be considered that a psychopath's behaviour is motivated out of negative emotions and emotional states with a distinct lack of or disregard of morality and a disregard of conscience. Psychopaths "enjoy" what they do.
I am strongly suggesting to all that we are blinded by our reasoning, and by the reasoning of others.
Though I do agree with the following quote mentioned before: -
Dave H. wrote:
From a computational standpoint, emotions represent global state that influences a lot of other processing. Hormones etc. are basically just implementation. A sentient or sapient computer certainly could experience emotions, if it was structured in such a way as to have such global states affecting its thinking.
However, his reasoning below it (that quote) is also seriously flawed.
Emotions are both active and passive: They are triggered by thoughts and they trigger our thoughts; Emotions are a mental state and a behaviourial quality; Emotions react to stimuli or measure our responses to them; Emotions are independant regulators and moderators; Yet they provoke our focus and attention to specific criteria; and they help us when intuition and emotion agree or they hinder us when conscience or will clash.
A computer has the same potential as us to feel emotions, but the skill of implementing emotions is much more sophisticated than the one solution fits all answer people are seeking here.
Also, if anyone argues that emotions are simply "states" where a response or responses can be designed around it, really does not understand the complexity of emotions; the "freedom" emotions and thoughts have independently of each other; or what constitutes true thought!
Programmers and scientists are notorious for "simulating" the real experiences of emotions or intelligence, without understanding the intimate complexities; Thinking that in finding the perfect simulation they have "discovered" the real experience.
The Psi-theory seems to adequately give a proper understanding of the matter:
So I would say that the simulation of emotional states "is" equivalent to experiencing emotions, but those emotional states are far more complex than what most realise.