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What Is a Pain in a Body Part?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 October 2019

Murat Aydede*
Affiliation:
Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada

Abstract

The International Association for the Study of Pain’s (IASP) definition of “pain” defines it 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.) This 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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Article
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Canadian Journal of Philosophy

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