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Corns, Jennifer. Unpleasantness, Motivational Oomph, and Painfulness
2014, Mind and Language 29 (2):238-254
Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: Painful pains are, paradigmatically, unpleasant and motivating. The dominant view amongst philosophers and pain scientists is that these two features are essentially related and sufficient for painfulness. In this article, I first offer scientifically informed characterizations of both unpleasantness and motivational oomph and argue against other extant accounts. I then draw on folk-characterized cases and current neurobiological and neurobehavioral evidence to argue that both dominant positions are mistaken. Unpleasantness and motivational oomph doubly dissociate and, even taken together, are insufficient for painfulness

Comment: I use this paper as further reading when I teach on the philosophy of well-being and/or moral psychology. The paper is a detailed and useful text that can help explain positions on the nature of pain and, more specifically, its relation to our motivational capacities. It makes a lot of good use of scientific literature, and can be a good guide to that for students. Corns provides an argument for a way of understanding pain that doesn't reduce it to simply motivation or unpleasantness.

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