The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Pain  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Pain

ISBN 9781138823181
Published June 28, 2017 by Routledge
456 Pages

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Book Description

The phenomenon of pain presents problems and puzzles for philosophers who want to understand its nature. Though pain might seem simple, there has been disagreement since Aristotle about whether pain is an emotion, sensation, perception, or disturbed state of the body. Despite advances in psychology, neuroscience, and medicine, pain is still poorly understood and multiple theories of pain abound.

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Pain is an outstanding reference source to the key topics, problems, and debates in this exciting and interdisciplinary subject and is the first collection of its kind. Comprising over thirty chapters by a team of international contributors the Handbook is divided into nine clear parts:

  • Modeling pain in philosophy
  • Modeling pain in neuroscience
  • Modeling pain in psychology
  • Pain in philosophy of mind
  • Pain in epistemology
  • Pain in philosophy of religion
  • Pain in ethics
  • Pain in medicine
  • Pain in law

As well as fundamental topics in the philosophy of pain such as the nature, role, and value of pain, many other important topics are covered including the neurological pathways involved in pain processing; biopsychosocial and cognitive-behavioural models of pain; chronic pain; pain and non-human animals; pain and knowledge; controlled substances for pain; pain and placebo effects; and pain and physician-assisted suicide.

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Pain is essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology and ethics. It will also be very useful to researchers of pain from any field, especially those in psychology, medicine, and health studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction. Pain research: where we’ve been, where we’re going, and why it matters Jennifer Corns 

Section 1: The Nature of Pain: what is Pain?

Part 1: Modeling Pain in Philosophy

1. A brief and potted overview on the philosophical theories of pain Valerie Hardcastle

2. Pain and representation Brian Cutter

3. An evaluative account of pain’s unpleasantness David Bain

4. Imperativism Colin Klein

5. Fault lines in familiar concepts of pain Christopher Hill

Part 2: Modeling Pain in Neuroscience

6. Advances in the neuroscience of pain Vania Apkarian

7. Neuromatrix theory of pain Mathieu Roy and Tor Wager

8. A neurobiological view of pain as a homeostatic emotion Irina A. Strigo and Arthur D. ("Bud") Craig

9. A view of pain based on sensations, meanings, and emotions Donald D. Price

10. Pathophysiological mechanisms of chronic pain Michael Thacker and Lorimer Moseley

Part 3: Modeling Pain in Psychology

11. Psychological models of pain Amanda Williams

12. Bisopsychosocial models of pain Thomas Hadjistavropoulos

13. Psychogenic pain: old and new Mark Sullivan

14. Pain, voluntary action, and the sense of agency Brianna Beck and Patrick Haggard

Section 2: Theoretical implications: why does pain matter, theoretically?

Part 4: Pain in philosophy of mind

15. The lives of others: pain in non-human animals Paula Droege

16. Robot Pain Pete Mandik

17. Pain and consciousness David Pereplyotchik

18. Pain: perception or introspection? Murat Aydede

Part 5: Pain in epistemology

19. Pain and rationality Matthew Fulkerson and Jonathan Cohen

20. Pain and incorrigibility Peter Langland-Hassan

21. Can I see your pain? An evaluative model of pain perception Frederique De Vignemont

22. Pain and cognitive penetrability Hilla Jacobson

Part 6: Pain in philosophy of religion

23. Sacred pain: the use of self-inflicted pain in religion Ariel Glucklich

24. The role of pain and buddhism: the conquest of suffering Palden Gyal and Owen Flanagan

25. Pain and the divine Trent Dougherty

26. The problem of pain in the philosophy of religion Steve Layman

Section 3: Practical implications: why does pain matter, practically?

Part 7: Pain in ethics

27. Bad by nature: an axiological theory of pain Olivier Massin

28. Pain and torture Michael Davis

29. Pain and education Avi I. Mintz

30. Pain and justified evaluative belief Robert Cowan

Part 8: Pain in medicine

31. An introduction to the IASP’s definition of pain Andrew Wright

32. Pain and ‘placebo’ analgesia Daniel Moerman

33. Pain management Carolyn Berryman, Mark Cately, and Lorimer Moseley

Part 9: Pain in Law

34. Pain and the law Ben A. Rich

35. Pain and controlled pain relieving substances Sunil Kumar Aggarwal and Katherine Pettus

36. Fetal pain and the law: abortion laws and their relationship to ideas about pain Stuart Derbyshire

37. Pain, mental suffering, and physician-assisted death Daniel Weinstock.


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Jennifer Corns is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, UK. Her published research focuses on pain and affect. She aims to use philosophical tools and evaluate empirical research to make progress on topics that matter within and beyond the academy. She is currently revising a monograph, Pain is Not a Natural Kind.


"This is a marvellous resource for researchers and graduate students working on pain. The editor has done a magisterial job in bringing philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology into discussion and demonstrating how these approaches in turn interface with key areas of philosophy and of practice (law, medicine, ethics). It is an exemplary template for interdisciplinary research." - Matthew Broome, University of Oxford, UK

"This Handbook demonstrates how far the study of pain has developed in recent years. It presents an excellent overview of advances and current controversies about the nature of pain, in philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology, followed by chapters that exemplify pain’s relevance for both theoretical and practical inquiries. It will be invaluable for researchers and students in these different disciplines." - Barry Maund, The University of Western Australia 

"This collection of philosophical essays from interdisciplinary experts confirms that the revolution in pain science and medicine has finally reached philosophy. The era of pain as a paradigm simply of sensation is ending. In these chapters, we see the emerging contours of an accelerating renaissance in philosophical thinking about pain." - Adam Swenson, California State University, Northridge, USA

"This collection presents a broad overview on the discourse on pain, and reveals how philosophy, particularly through analytic accounts, can bring clarity to the ambiguous experience. Clearly introduced and meticulously laid out, the Routledge Handbook provides an essential roadmap to philosophy's multidisciplinary engagements with pain." - Anna Westin, PhD, Lecturer in Ethics, London School of Theology

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