The inadequacy of unitary characterizations of pain

Corns, J. (2014) The inadequacy of unitary characterizations of pain. Philosophical Studies, 169(3), pp. 355-378. (doi:10.1007/s11098-013-0186-7)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11098-013-0186-7

Abstract

Though pain scientists now understand pain to be a complex experience typically composed of sensation, emotion, cognition, and motivational responses, many philosophers maintain that pain is adequately characterized by one privileged aspect of this complexity. Philosophically dominant unitary accounts of pain as a sensation or perception are here evaluated by their ability to explain actual cases—and found wanting. Further, it is argued that no forthcoming unitary characterization of pain is likely to succeed. Instead, I contend that both the motivating intuitions behind unitary accounts and the wide range of pain phenomena are best accommodated by a componential view of pain that does not privilege any single component as necessary or sufficient.

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:Philosophical Studies
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0031-8116
ISSN (Online):1573-0883

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