Subjectivists Should Say Pain Is Bad Because of How It Feels

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 46:137-164 (2022)
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What is the best way to account for the badness of pain and what sort of theory of welfare is best suited to accommodate this view? I argue that unpleasant sensory experiences are prudentially bad in the absence of contrary attitudes, but good when the object of positive attitudes. Pain is bad unless it is liked, enjoyed, valued etc. Interestingly, this view is incompatible with either pure objectivist or pure subjectivist understandings of welfare. However, there is a kind of welfare theory that can incorporate this view of the badness of pain and which is very, very close to being a form of subjectivism. Moreover, this hybrid account of welfare is entirely compatible with the deep motivations of subjectivism. I therefore argue that those who lean towards welfare subjectivism should adopt this account of pain, and that we should revise our understanding of subjectivism to count such theories as subjective.

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Jennifer Hawkins
Duke University

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The sources of normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Onora O'Neill.
The origin of concepts.Susan Carey - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics.David Owen Brink - 1989 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Welfare, happiness, and ethics.L. W. Sumner - 1996 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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