Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 283–298 | Cite as

Pain signals are predominantly imperative

  • Manolo Martínez
  • Colin Klein


Recent work on signaling has mostly focused on communication between organisms. The Lewis–Skyrms framework should be equally applicable to intra-organismic signaling. We present a Lewis–Skyrms signaling-game model of painful signaling, and use it to argue that the content of pain is predominantly imperative. We address several objections to the account, concluding that our model gives a productive framework within which to consider internal signaling.


Signaling games Internal signaling Pain Imperativism 



Financial support for this work was provided by the DGI, Spanish Government, research Project FFI2011-26853 (Martínez); Consolider-Ingenio Project CSD2009-00056 (Martínez); a Macquarie University Faculty Research Travel Scheme Grant (Klein); and Australian Research Council Grant FT140100422 (Klein). We would like to thank Murat Aydede, David Bain, Peter Clutton, Matt Fulkerson, the audience of the invited symposium “Painful Pains, Yummy Tastes, Stinky Smells: Sensory Affect” at the 2014 meeting of the APA Pacific in San Diego, and two anonymous referees for comments and suggestions on an earlier draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Logos Research Group in Analytic Philosophy and Department of PhilosophyUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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