The Developmental Challenge to the Paradox of Pain

Erkenntnis 82 (2):265-283 (2017)
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People seem to perceive and locate pains in bodily locations, but also seem to conceive of pains as mental states that can be introspected. However, pains cannot be both bodily and mental, at least according to most conceptions of these two categories: mental states are not the kind of entities that inhabit body parts. How are we to resolve this paradox of pain? In this paper, I put forward what I call the ‘Developmental Challenge’, tackling the second pillar of this paradox, i.e. the introspectionist view of pain according to which genuine pain reports are introspective reports. This view forms an inconsistent triad with two other widely held positions: young children make genuine pain reports, and young children do not make introspective reports. After introducing the paradox and the introspectionist view of pain in part 1, I present the developmental challenge, and defend both and. I conclude that the inconsistent triad can only be resolved by reconsidering the introspectionist view of pain. In discussing three potential factors that lead to the puzzling intricacies of our concept of pain, I argue that the concept of pain might not be paradoxical after all.



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Kevin Reuter
University of Zürich

Citations of this work

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