Pain, qualia, and the explanatory gap

Philosophical Psychology 11 (3):371-387 (1998)
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Abstract

This paper investigates the status of the purported explanatory gap between pain phenomena and natural science, when the “gap” is thought to exist due to the special properties of experience designated by “ qualia ” or “the pain quale” in the case of pain experiences. The paper questions the existence of such a property in the case of pain by: looking at the history of the conception of pain; raising questions from empirical research and theory in the psychology of pain; considering evidence from the neurophysiological systems of pain; investigating the possible biological role or roles of pain; and considering methodological questions of the comparable status of the results of the sciences of pain in contrast to certain intuitions underpinning “the explanatory gap” in the case of pain. Skepticism concerning the crucial underlying intuitions seems justified by these considerations

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