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Corns, Jennifer. Unpleasantness, Motivational Oomph, and Painfulness
2014, Mind and Language 29 (2):238-254
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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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Davis, Alison. Right to life of handicapped
1983, Journal of Medical Ethics 9 (3):181-181.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: This notion of non-personhood denies the right of handicapped people to be recognised as equal human beings in a caring society, and it makes a mockery of the goodwill which seemingly abounded in the International Year of Disabled People. Legislation of the type proposed could well also lead to the de facto decriminalisation of the act of killing a handicapped person of any age, just as it did in Hitler’sGermany.And if it does, woe betide any handicapped people who are too ill to defend their right to life by protesting that they are in fact happy. And woe betide us all, when we get too old to be considered ‘useful’ and all the friends who could have spoken in our defence have already been oh so lovingly ‘allowed to die’.

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