Pain, Perception, and the Appearance-Reality Distinction

Philosophical Analysis 2017 (38):205-237 (2017)
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I argue that pain sensations are perceptual states, namely states that represent (actual or potential) damage. I defend this position against the objection that pains, unlike standard perceptual states, do not allow for an appearance-reality distinction by arguing that in the case of pain as well as in standard perceptual experiences, cognitive penetration or malfunctions of the underlying sensory systems can lead to a dissociation between the sensation on the one hand, and what is represented on the other hand. Moreover, I refute the objection that the allegedly weak correlation between pain and bodily damage forces intentionalist accounts of pain to postulate so many malfunctions (misrepresentations respectively) that such accounts become implausible. I also rebut Murat Aydede’s objection that our linguistic practice supposedly shows that there is a conceptual difference between standard perceptual experiences and pain sensations by challenging Aydede’s premise that we always withdraw standard perceptual reports in case of counterevidence, while we never do that with pain reports. At the end, I propose an explanation as to why we do not express perceptual reports of (potential) bodily damage in objectivist, but in mental terms.
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