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Engineering the Concept of Pain for Clinical Practice

(Work in progress)

Abstract Conceptual engineering involves assessing and improving our concepts (Cappelen 2018). The ongoing efforts of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) to provide a useful definition of pain serve as a paradigmatic example of this process: the IASP states on its website that its definition has been carefully reviewed and its utility in both clinical and basic science contexts assessed. In this paper, I aim to contribute to the conceptual engineering of pain, with a particular focus on the challenges pertaining to clinical practice. I discuss the general process of conceptual engineering, outline the desiderata for a definition of pain in clinical practice, evaluate the recent revision of the IASP definition (from 2020) against these desiderata, and propose that further engineering work is needed.

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