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Naturalism, introspection, and direct realism about pain

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This paper examines pain states (and other intransitive bodily sensations) from the perspective of the problems they pose for pure informational/representational approaches to naturalizing qualia. I start with a comprehensive critical and quasi-historical discussion of so-called Perceptual Theories of Pain (e.g., Armstrong, Pitcher), as these were the natural predecessors of the more modern direct realist views. I describe the theoretical backdrop (indirect realism, sense-data theories) against which the perceptual theories were developed. The conclusion drawn is that pure representationalism about pain in the tradition of direct realist perceptual theories (e.g., Dretske, Tye) leaves out something crucial about the phenomenology of pain experiences, namely, their affective character. I touch upon the role that introspection plays in such representationalist views, and indicate how it contributes to the source of their trouble vis-à-vis bodily sensations. The paper ends by briefly commenting on the relation between the affective/evaluative component of pain and the hedonic valence of emotions.

Keywords: Pain; affect; direct realism; emotion; introspection; naturalism; perception; perceptual theories of pain.; qualia; representationalism; sensation; sense-data; sensory/affective distinction

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Chicago

Publication date: October 1, 2001

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