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When, How, and Why Did “Pain” Become Subjective? Beecher, Operationalization, and Its Problems

Djordjevic, Charles (2023) When, How, and Why Did “Pain” Become Subjective? Beecher, Operationalization, and Its Problems. Philosophy of Medicine, 4 (1). pp. 1-22. ISSN 2692-3963

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The pain-assessment literature often claims that pain is subjective. However, the meaning and implications of this claim are left to the reader’s imagination. This paper attempts to make sense of the claim and its problems from the history and philosophy of science perspective. It examines the work of Henry Beecher, the first person to operationalize “pain” in terms of subjective measurements. First, I reconstruct Beecher’s operationalization of “pain.” Next, I argue this operationalization fails. Third, I salvage Beecher’s insights by repositioning them in an intersubjective account. Finally, I connect these insights to current pain-assessment approaches, showing that they enrich each other.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Djordjevic, Charlesdjordjevicc@gmail.com0000-0002-4638-9838
Keywords: Pain Assessment Subjectivity of Pain Operationalization Henry Beecher
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Medicine
Depositing User: Professor Alex Broadbent
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2023 13:39
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2023 13:39
Item ID: 22193
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy of Medicine
Publisher: University Library System, University of Pittsburgh
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.5195/pom.2023.146
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Medicine
Date: 2 June 2023
Page Range: pp. 1-22
Volume: 4
Number: 1
ISSN: 2692-3963

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