Painful Reasons: Representationalism as a Theory of Pain

Philosophical Quarterly 62 (249):737-758 (2012)
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Abstract

It is widely thought that functionalism and the qualia theory are better positioned to accommodate the ‘affective’ aspect of pain phenomenology than representationalism. In this paper, we attempt to overturn this opinion by raising problems for both functionalism and the qualia theory on this score. With regard to functionalism, we argue that it gets the order of explanation wrong: pain experience gives rise to the effects it does because it hurts, and not the other way around. With regard to the qualia theory, we argue that it fails to capture the sense in which pain 's affective phenomenology rationalises various bodily-directed beliefs, desires, and behaviours. Representationalism, in contrast, escapes both of these problems: it gets the order of explanation right and it explains how pain 's affective phenomenology can rationalise bodily-directed beliefs, desires, and behaviours. For this reason, we argue that representationalism has a significant advantage in the debates about pain 's affective phenomenology. We end the paper by examining objections, including the question of what representationalists should say about so-called ‘disassociation cases’, such as pain asymbolia

Author Profiles

Brendan O'Sullivan
Stonehill College
Robert Schroer
University of Minnesota, Duluth

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