Pain's evils

Utilitas 21 (2):197-216 (2009)

Abstract

The traditional accounts of pain’s intrinsic badness assume a false view of what pains are. Insofar as they are normatively significant, pains are not just painful sensations. A pain is a composite of a painful sensation and a set of beliefs, desires, emotions, and other mental states. A pain’s intrinsic properties can include inter alia depression, anxiety, fear, desires, feelings of helplessness, and the pain’s meaning. This undermines the traditional accounts of pain’s intrinsic badness. Pain is intrinsically bad in two distinct and historically unnoticed ways. First, most writers hold that pain’s intrinsic badness lies either in its unpleasantness or in its being disliked. Given my wider conception of pain, I believe it is both. Pain’s first intrinsic evil lies in a conjunction of all the traditional candidates for its source. Pain’s second intrinsic evil lies in the way it necessarily undermines the self-control necessary for intrinsic goods like autonomy.

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Author's Profile

Adam R. Swenson
California State University, Northridge

References found in this work

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The view from nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (2):221-222.
Reconsidering Pain.Norton Nelkin - 1994 - Philosophical Psychology 7 (3):325-43.
Pain and Evil.R. M. Hare & P. L. Gardiner - 1964 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 38 (1):91-124.

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Citations of this work

Finding the Good in Grief: What Augustine Knew but Meursault Couldn't.Michael Cholbi - 2017 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 3 (1):91-105.
From Welfare to Rights Without Changing the Subject.John Hadley - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (5):993-1004.

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