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  1. The Polysemy View of Pain.Michelle Liu - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    Philosophers disagree about what the folk concept of pain is. This paper criticises existing theories of the folk concept of pain, i.e. the mental view, the bodily view, and the recently proposed polyeidic view. It puts forward an alternative proposal – the polysemy view – according to which pain terms like “sore,” “ache” and “hurt” are polysemous, where one sense refers to a mental state and another a bodily state, and the type of polysemy at issue reflects two distinct but (...)
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  • Reversing the Norm Effect on Causal Attributions.John Schwenkler & Justin Sytsma - manuscript
    Research in the psychology of causal thinking has frequently revealed effects of normative considerations on causal attributions, where participants tend to assign causality more strongly to agents who violate a norm in bringing about an outcome. Across several experiments, we show that it is possible to reverse this norm effect when the outcome in question is good rather than bad: in these cases, participants assign causality more strongly to a norm-conforming agent than to an agent who violates a norm. We (...)
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  • Empirical Investigations: Reflecting on Turing and Wittgenstein on Thinking Machines.Jonathan Livengood & Justin Sytsma - unknown
    In the opening paragraph of “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” Alan Turing famously notes that “if the meaning of the words ‘machine’ and ‘think’ are to be found by examining how they are commonly used it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the meaning and the answer to the question, ‘Can machines think?’ is to be sought in a statistical survey such as a Gallup poll.” He then immediately responds, “But this is absurd.” But why is this absurd, if indeed (...)
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  • Experimental Philosophy of Pain.Justin Sytsma & Kevin Reuter - 2017 - Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research 34 (3):611-628.
    The standard view of pains among philosophers today holds that their existence consists in being experienced, such that there can be no unfelt pains or pain hallucinations. The typical line of support offered for this view is that it corresponds with the ordinary or commonsense conception of pain. Despite this, a growing body of evidence from experimental philosophers indicates that the ordinary understanding of pain stands in contrast to the standard view among philosophers. In this paper, we will survey this (...)
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  • Is the Folk Concept of Pain Polyeidic?Emma Borg, Richard Harrison, James Stazicker & Tim Salomons - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (1):29-47.
    Philosophers often assume that folk hold pain to be a mental state – to be in pain is to have a certain kind of feeling – and they think this state exhibits the classic Cartesian characteristics of privacy, subjectivity, and incorrigibility. However folk also assign pains bodily locations: unlike most other mental states, pains are held to exist in arms, feet, etc. This has led some to talk of the ‘paradox of pain’, whereby the folk notion of pain is inherently (...)
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  • Pain priors, polyeidism, and predictive power: a preliminary investigation into individual differences in ordinary thought about pain.Emma Borg, Sarah Fisher, Nat Hansen, Rich Harrison, Tim Salomons, Deepak Ravindran & Harriet Wilkinson - 2021 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 42 (3):113-135.
    According to standard philosophical and clinical understandings, pain is an essentially mental phenomenon. In a challenge to this standard conception, a recent burst of empirical work in experimental philosophy, such as that by Justin Sytsma and Kevin Reuter, purports to show that people ordinarily conceive of pain as an essentially bodily phenomenon—specifically, a quality of bodily disturbance. In response to this bodily view, other recent experimental studies have provided evidence that the ordinary concept of pain is more complex than previously (...)
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  • Pain and Spatial Inclusion: Evidence From Mandarin.Michelle Liu & Colin Klein - 2020 - Analysis 80 (2):262-272.
    The surface grammar of reports such as ‘I have a pain in my leg’ suggests that pains are objects which are spatially located in parts of the body. We show that the parallel construction is not available in Mandarin. Further, four philosophically important grammatical features of such reports cannot be reproduced. This suggests that arguments and puzzles surrounding such reports may be tracking artefacts of English, rather than philosophically significant features of the world.
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  • Unfelt pain.Kevin Reuter & Justin Sytsma - 2020 - Synthese 197 (4):1777-1801.
    The standard view in philosophy treats pains as phenomenally conscious mental states. This view has a number of corollaries, including that it is generally taken to rule out the existence of unfelt pains. The primary argument in support of the standard view is that it supposedly corresponds with the commonsense conception of pain. In this paper, we challenge this doctrine about the commonsense conception of pain, and with it the support offered for the standard view, by presenting the results of (...)
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  • No Problem: Evidence That Problem Intuitions Are Not Widespread.Justin Sytsma & Eyuphan Ozdemir - unknown
    The meta-problem is “the problem of explaining why we think that there is a problem of consciousness”. This presupposes that we think there is a problem in the first place. We challenge the breadth of this “we," arguing that there is already sufficient empirical evidence to cast doubt on the claim. We then add to this body of evidence, presenting the results of a new cross-cultural study extending the work of Sytsma and Machery.
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  • Experiencers and the Ambiguity Objection.Justin Sytsma - unknown
    It is often asserted that we should believe that phenomenal consciousness exists because it is pretheoretically obvious. If this is the case, then we should expect lay people to categorize mental states in roughly the way that philosophers do, treating prototypical examples of phenomenally conscious mental states similarly. Sytsma and Machery present preliminary evidence that this is not the case. They found that participants happily ascribed seeing red to a simple robot but denied that the robot felt pain. The most (...)
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