Conceiving of Pain

Dialogue 47 (2):351 (2008)
ABSTRACT: In this article we aim to see how far one can get in defending the identity thesis without challenging the inference from conceivability to possibility. Our defence consists of a dilemma for the modal argument. Either "pain" is rigid or it is not. If it is not rigid, then a key premise of the modal argument can be rejected. If it is rigid, the most plausible semantic account treats "pain" as a natural-kind term that refers to its causaI or historical origin, namely, C-fibre stimulation. It follows that any phenomenon that is not C-fibre stimulation is not pain, even if it is qualitatively similar to pain. This means there could be phenomena that feel like pain butare not pain since they are not C-fibre stimulation. These possible phenomena can be used to explain away the apparent conceivability of pain without C-fibre stimulation. On either horn of the dilemma, the identity theorist has ample resources to respond to Kripke's argument, even without wandering into the contentious territory of conceivability and possibility.RÉSUMÉ: Nous souhaitons explorer ici dans quelle mesure il est possible de défendre la thèse de l'identité sans contester l'inférence de la concevabilité à la possibilité. Nous proposons un dilemme pour l'argument modal: soit «da souffrance» est sévère ou elle ne l'est pas. Dans le second cas, une des prémisses fondamentales de l'argument modal se voit rejetée. Dans le cas contraire, le traitement sémantique le plus plausible présente «la souffrance» comme un type naturel qui se réfère à son origine causale ou historique, c'est-à-dire à une stimulation de la fibre C. Il s'ensuit que tout phénomène qui ne résulte pas de la stimulation de la fibre C n'est pas souffrance, même s'il est qualitativement similaire. Il existerait donc des phénomènes qui créent une impression de souffrance mais qui ne le sont pas. Face à ce dilemme, le théoricien de l'identité a anlplenlent de quoi répondre à l'argument de Kripke, sans même toucher au domaine controversé de la concevabilité et de la possibilité.
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DOI 10.1017/S0012217300002651
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John Perry (2009). Reference and Reflexivity. Center for the Study of Language and Information.

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