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Imperatives, phantom pains, and hallucination by presupposition

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Several authors have recently argued that the content of pains (and bodily sensations more generally) is imperative rather than descriptive. I show that such an account can help resolve competing intuitions about phantom limb pain. As imperatives, phantom pains are neither true nor false. However, phantom limb pains presuppose falsehoods, in the same way that any imperative which demands something impossible presupposes a falsehood. Phantom pains, like many chronic pains, are thus commands that cannot be satisfied. I conclude by showing that some of the negative psychological consequences of chronic pain are a direct consequence of their imperative nature.

Keywords: Imperatives; Intentionalism; Pain; Phantom Limbs

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09515089.2011.625121

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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