Pain eliminativism: scientific and traditional

Corns, J. (2016) Pain eliminativism: scientific and traditional. Synthese, 193(9), pp. 2949-2971. (doi:10.1007/s11229-015-0897-8)

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Abstract

Traditional eliminativism is the view that a term should be eliminated from everyday speech due to failures of reference. Following Edouard Machery, we may distinguish this traditional eliminativism about a kind and its term from a scientific eliminativism according to which a term should be eliminated from scientific discourse due to a lack of referential utility. The distinction matters if any terms are rightly retained for daily life despite being rightly eliminated from scientific inquiry. In this article, I argue that while scientific eliminativism for pain may be plausible, traditional eliminativism for pain is not. I discuss the pain eliminativisms offered by Daniel Dennett and Valerie Hardcastle and argue that both theorists, at best, provide support for scientific eliminativism for pain, but leave the folk-psychological notion of pain unscathed. One might, however, think that scientific eliminativism itself entails traditional eliminativism—for pain and any other kind and corresponding term. I argue that this is not the case. Scientific eliminativism for pain does not entail traditional eliminativism about anything.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Corns, Dr Jennifer
Authors: Corns, J.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Journal Name:Synthese
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0039-7857
ISSN (Online):1573-0964
Published Online:18 September 2015

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