, Volume 161, Issue 3, pp 489-496
Date: 21 Sep 2011

Hmm… Hill on the paradox of pain

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Pain perception

Bodily sensations, for instance pains, are often thought to pose insuperable difficulties for representational theories of consciousness. Chris Hill is never one to dodge a problem, and chapter 6 of his splendid and instructive Consciousness is devoted to outlining a perceptual/representational theory of pain, in the tradition of Armstrong and Pitcher.

Perceptual theories of pain are not the same as representational theories of pain. According to a perceptual theory of pain, when one has a pain in one’s toe (for example), one perceives some sort of disturbance in one’s toe. (At least in a typical case: the perceptual theorist will want to allow for illusions and hallucinations of such disturbances).

A perceptual theorist might even hold that the experience of pain is never veridical (as some hold that experiences of color are never veridical). This “eliminativist” variant of the perceptual theory will be ignored here.

Pain perception is interoception—perception specialized