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The History of the Concept of Pain: How the Experts Came to be Out of Touch with the Folk

Goldberg, Benny and Reuter, Kevin and Sytsma, Justin (2022) The History of the Concept of Pain: How the Experts Came to be Out of Touch with the Folk. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In this chapter we consider the tension between how pain researchers today typically define pains and the dominant, ordinary conception of pain. While both philosophers and pain scientists define pains as experiences, taking this to correspond with the ordinary understanding, recent empirical evidence indicates that laypeople tend to think of pains as qualities of bodily states. How did this divide come about? To answer, we sketch the historical origins of the concept of pain in Western medicine, providing evidence that during large swaths of this history, medical experts characterized pains as laypeople tend to today—that is, as qualities of bodily states. The conception of pains as experiences that we find in contemporary definitions seems to be a relatively recent development corresponding with changes in the diagnostic tools available to doctors. We argue that this history is important and suggests that the most prominent current scientific definition of pain (IASP) is partly stipulative and fails to match how laypeople most often think of pain. We suggest that either we should acknowledge this stipulative character, or else should amend the IASP definition in a pluralistic fashion that notes both bodily and experiential conceptions of pain.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Goldberg, Benny
Reuter, Kevin
Sytsma, Justin
Additional Information: Forthcoming in Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Medicine edited by K. Hens and A. De Block.
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Medicine
Specific Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2022 14:43
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2022 14:43
Item ID: 20244
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Medicine
Specific Sciences > Psychology
Date: 1 February 2022
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20244

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