Why Take Painkillers?

Noûs 53 (2):462-490 (2019)
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Abstract

Accounts of the nature of unpleasant pain have proliferated over the past decade, but there has been little systematic investigation of which of them can accommodate its badness. This paper is such a study. In its sights are two targets: those who deny the non-instrumental disvalue of pain's unpleasantness; and those who allow it but deny that it can be accommodated by the view—advanced by me and others—that unpleasant pains are interoceptive experiences with evaluative content. Against the former, I argue that pain's unpleasantness does indeed have noninstrumental disvalue; against the latter I argue both that my critics’ own desire-theoretic accounts of pain's unpleasantness cannot accommodate such disvalue, and that my evaluativist view can—either by appealing to “anti-unpleasantness” desires or by exploiting pain's perceptuality.

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David Bain
Glasgow University

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