This paper investigates the status of the purported explanatory gap between pain phenomena and natural science, when the “gap” is thought to exist due to the special properties of experience designated by “ qualia ” or “the pain quale” in the case of pain experiences. The paper questions the existence of such a property in the case of pain by: looking at the history of the conception of pain; raising questions from empirical research and theory in the psychology of pain; (...) considering evidence from the neurophysiological systems of pain; investigating the possible biological role or roles of pain; and considering methodological questions of the comparable status of the results of the sciences of pain in contrast to certain intuitions underpinning “the explanatory gap” in the case of pain. Skepticism concerning the crucial underlying intuitions seems justified by these considerations. (shrink)
SIMPLE SEEING I met Virgil Aldrich for the first time in the fall of 1969 when I arrived in Chapel Hill to attend a philosophy conference. My book, Seeing and Knowing,1 had just appeared a few months earlier.
What follows raises objections to some arguments that claimthat a principle of applicability of ordinary pain talkconstrains developments in the pain sciences. A more apt pictureof lay use of pain language shows its non-theoretic character.Since instrumentalism and eliminativism are philosophical viewsabout the status of theories of pain, neither is a threatto clinical use of standard pain lingo. Perfected pain theoryis likely to enhance and improve pain language in clinicalsettings, should such theory find its way into popular ideasand talk of pain.
There is a traditional view of pain as a conscious phenomenon which satisfies the following two principles at least: Pain is essentially a belief- or cognition-independent sensation, given for consciousness in an immediate way, and pain′s unitary physical base is responsible for both its phenomenal or felt qualities and it′s functional, causal features. These are "The Raw Feels Principle" and "The Unity of Pain Principle" . Each is shown to be implausible. Evidence comes from recent pain research in a number (...) of dimensions. A further argument against The Unity of Pain Principle is constructed by analogy with facts about blindsight. The consequences of rejecting P or Q are examined in light of the traditional epistemological role of pain as exemplar of sensations thought to be foundational for knowledge, the prospects of a modularity theory of the pain system, recent accounts of pain among contemporary philosophers, a naturalist and realist conception of pain, and views about the status of Folk Psychology. (shrink)
In Stephanie Beardman's discussion of the empirical results of Kahneman and Tversky and Kahneman, et al. on pain preference and rational utility decision she argues that an interpretation of these results does not require that false memory for pain episodes yields irrational preferences for future pain events. I concur with her conclusion and suggest that there are reasons from within the pain sciences for agreeing with Beardman's reinterpretation of the Kahneman, et al. data. I cite some of these theoretical and (...) empirical reasons. I engage in some speculation as to why preferences for pain experiences, which harbor the Peak and Ending profile, make biological sense. Given the results from the pain sciences and the clinical practices based in them, I conclude that the medical ethical issue Kahneman raises and Beardman tries to solve is not a pressing moral demand on medical practitioners. (shrink)