Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

THE MONIST: Vol. 100, No. 4, October 2017

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

THE MONIST: Vol. 100, No. 4, October 2017

Article excerpt

Defending the IASP Definition of Pain, MURAT AYDEDE

The official definition of pain by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) hasn't seen much revision since its publication in 1979. There have been various criticisms of the definition in the literature from different quarters: that the definition implies a dubious metaphysical dualism; that it requires a strong form of consciousness as well as linguistic abilities; that it excludes many vulnerable groups that are otherwise perfectly capable of experiencing pain; that it has therefore unacceptable practical as well as ethical consequences; that it is unhelpful to the health-care professional as an operational definition; that it is too narrow; and many others. In the author's view, most of these criticisms depend on misunderstandings or on uncharitable interpretations. This paper's aim is to go over the definition, clarify some potential ambiguities, and argue that these criticisms don't cut much ice. At the end, the author presents a few slightly reworded versions of the definition that are claimed to be more felicitous and to capture the original intended meaning by the members of the taxonomic committee in a much better and transparent way that avoids all the major extant criticisms in the literature.

Pain and Touch, FREDERIQUE DE VIGNEMONT

When one contrasts pain with the classic five senses, discussions generally focus on vision, which is taken as the paradigmatic example of perception. An intentionalist might argue that if the phenomenal difference between feeling and seeing bodily disturbances cannot be explained at the level of the content, it can be so at the level of the mode of presentation, and more particularly at the level of the structure of the spatial phenomenology of pain. Here the author argues that the spatial phenomenology of pain shares some key features with touch by contrast to sight, but these similarities should not make us neglect major differences between these two types of bodily sensations. He then draws the consequences of these differences for the awareness of one's body as one's own. …

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