pp 1–25 | Cite as

Unfelt pain

  • Kevin ReuterEmail author
  • Justin Sytsma


The standard view in philosophy treats pains as phenomenally conscious mental states. This view has a number of corollaries, including that it is generally taken to rule out the existence of unfelt pains. The primary argument in support of the standard view is that it supposedly corresponds with the commonsense conception of pain. In this paper, we challenge this doctrine about the commonsense conception of pain, and with it the support offered for the standard view, by presenting the results of a series of new empirical studies that indicate that lay people not only tend to believe that unfelt pains are possible, but actually, quite common.


Pain Unfelt pain Experimental philosophy Conscious mental states Commonsense conception of pain 



This work was supported in part by a FHSS JRC Small Grant from Victoria University of Wellington. We would like to thank the audiences at Ruhr University Bochum, University of Glasgow, University of Bern, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Auckland, Nanzan University, as well as the Philosophy of Science Association, the International Congress of Psychology, and the Society for Philosophy and Psychology for their helpful comments.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 25 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Humanities, Institute of PhilosophyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Philosophy ProgrammeVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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