What is a pain in a body part?

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (2):143–158 (2020)
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The IASP definition of 'pain' defines pain as a subjective experience. The Note accompanying the definition emphasizes that as such pains are not to be identified with objective conditions of body parts (such as actual or potential tissue damage). Nevertheless, it goes on to state that a pain "is unquestionably a sensation in a part or parts of the body, but it is also always unpleasant and therefore also an emotional experience." This generates a puzzle that philosophers have been well familiar with: how to understand our utterances and judgments attributing pain to body parts. (The puzzle is of course general extending to all sensations routinely located in body parts.) The present work tackles this puzzle. I go over various options specifying the truth-conditions for pain attributing judgments, and at the end make my own recommendation which is an adverbialist, qualia-friendly proposal with completely naturalistic credentials that is also compatible with forms of weak intentionalism. The results are generalizable to other bodily sensations and can be used to illustrate, quite generally, the viability of a qualia-friendly adverbialist (but naturalist and weakly intentionalist) account of perception.

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Murat Aydede
University of British Columbia

Citations of this work

Is Pain Representational?Murat Aydede - forthcoming - Belgrade Philosophical Annual.
The Bodily Theory of Pain.Erlend Winderen Finke Owesen - 2023 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 14 (4):1329-1347.

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References found in this work

A Materialist Theory of the Mind.D. M. Armstrong - 1968 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Ted Honderich.
Perception and the fall from Eden.David J. Chalmers - 2006 - In Tamar Szabó Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Perceptual Experience. Oxford University Press. pp. 49--125.
Perception: A Representative Theory.Frank Jackson - 1977 - Cambridge University Press.
A Materialist Theory of the Mind.D. Armstrong - 1968 - Philosophical Quarterly 19 (74):73-79.
What the body commands: the imperative theory of pain.Colin Klein - 2015 - Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

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