The Pain System is Not a Bodily Disturbance Detector
(Work in progress, under review)
Abstract: What is the function of pain? A popular view in contemporary philosophy is that the pain system is a bodily disturbance detector: pain states track/detect and represent bodily disturbances and the phenomenal character of the (sensory dimension of) pain supervenes on this representational content. The view can accommodate paradigmatic pain cases, e.g., when pain follows from stepping on a nail. Once we consider more complex pain phenomena, however, it has seemingly little to offer. In this paper, I discuss dissociation between pains and bodily disturbances, variation in pain thresholds, the effects of repeated stimulation on experienced pain intensity, and the modulation of pain experience by cognitive and emotional states. I argue that these phenomena suggest that the pain system is not a bodily disturbance detector, but a sophisticated security system.