The best route into philosophy is not to consider a definition, but to get your own philosophical cogs turning. Consider the questions philosophers engage and think about the many different ways they've addressed them. But, most important, grapple with the questions yourself.
The unpleasantness of pain motivates action. Hence many philosophers have doubted that it can be accounted for purely in terms of pain’s possession of indicative representational content. Instead, they have explained it in terms of subjects’ inclinations to stop their pains, or in terms of pains being constituted by experiential commands. I claim that such “noncognitivist” accounts fail to accommodate unpleasant pain’s reason-giving force. What I argue is needed is a view on which pains are unpleasant, motivate, and provide reasons (...) in virtue of possessing content that is indeed indicative, but also, crucially, evaluative. (shrink)
Pain, crucially, is unpleasant and motivational. It can be awful; and it drives us to action, e.g. to take our weight off a sprained ankle. But what is the relationship between pain and those two features? And in virtue of what does pain have them? Addressing these questions, Colin Klein and Richard J. Hall have recently developed the idea that pains are, at least partly, experiential commands—to stop placing your weight on your ankle, for example. In this paper, I reject (...) their accounts. Against Klein, I use dissociation cases to argue that possession of ‘imperative content’ cannot wholly constitute pain. Against them both, I further claim that possession of such content cannot even constitute pain’s unpleasant, motivational aspect. For, even if it were possible to specify the relevant imperative content—which is far from clear—the idea of a command cannot bear the explanatory weight Klein and Hall place on it. (shrink)
It can seem natural to say that, when in pain, we undergo experiences which present to us certain experience-dependent particulars, namely pains. As part of his wider approach to mind and world, John McDowell has elaborated an interesting but neglected version of this account of pain. Here I set out McDowell’s account at length, and place it in context. I argue that his subjectivist conception of the objects of pain experience is incompatible with his requirement that such experience be presentational, (...) rationalizing, and classificatory. (shrink)
I defend externalism about color experiences and color thoughts, which I argue color objectivism requires. Externalists face the following question: would a subject’s wearing inverting lenses eventually change the color content of, for instance, those visual experiences the subject reports with “red”? From the work of Ned Block, David Velleman, Paul Boghossian, Michael Tye, and Fiona Macpherson, I extract problems facing those who answer “Yes” and problems facing those who answer “No.” I show how these problems can be overcome, leaving (...) externalism available to the color objectivist. (shrink)
Perceptualists say that having a pain in a body part consists in perceiving the part as instantiating some property. I argue that perceptualism makes better sense of the connections between pain location and the experiences undergone by people in pain than three alternative accounts that dispense with perception. Turning to fellow perceptualists, I also reject ways in which David Armstrong and Michael Tye understand and motivate perceptualism, and I propose an alternative interpretation, one that vitiates a pair of objections—due to (...) John Hyman—concerning the meaning of ‘Amy has a pain in her foot’ and the idea of bodily sensitivity. Perceptualism, I conclude, remains our best account of the location of pains. (shrink)
Simon Blackburn objects that Wittgenstein's private language argument overlooks the possibility that a private linguist can equip himself with a criterion of correctness by confirming generalizations about the patterns in which his private sensations occur. Crispin Wright responds that appropriate generalizations would be too few to be interesting. But I show that Wright's calculations are upset by his failure to appreciate both the richness of the data and the range of theories that would be available to the private linguist.
The pain case can appear to undermine the radically intentionalist view that the phenomenal character of any experience is entirely constituted by its representational content. That appearance is illusory, I argue. After categorising versions of pain intentionalism along two dimensions, I argue that an “objectivist” and “non-mentalist” version is the most promising, provided it can withstand two objections: concerning what we say when in pain, and the distinctiveness of the pain case. I rebut these objections, in a way that’s available (...) to both opponents and adherents of the view that experiential content is entirely conceptual. In doing so I illuminate peculiarities of somatosensory perception that should interest even those who take a different view of pain experiences. (shrink)