Tudor M Baetu (Bristol): “Pain in Psychology, Biology and Medicine. Implications for Eliminativist and Physicalist Accounts” (BSPS Lecture)

An analysis of arguments for pain eliminativism reveals two significant points of divergence between assumptions underlying scientific research on pain and assumptions typically endorsed by physicalist accounts. The first concerns the status of the term ‘pain’, which is an operationalized description of a phenomenon, rather than an explanatory construct. The second concerns an explicit cause-effect model according to which pain is produced by neural mechanisms and causally determined by a variety of biological, psychological and social factors, as opposed to an identity model according to which pain is a physical structure, process or mechanism. These discrepancies undermine eliminativism, rendering it untenable from the standpoint of contemporary scientific research. More generally, they also hinder attempts to integrate scientific findings under the conceptual frameworks of physicalism.

Tudor M Baetu is a Lecturer in Philosophy of Science at the University of Bristol.