Killing the messenger: Representationalism and the painfulness of pain

Hilla Jacobson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


According to strong representationalism it is in virtue of having a particular representational content that an experience has the specific phenomenal character that it has. This paper argues that representationalism does not have the resources to explain the most salient aspect of the phenomenal character of pain-it is bound to leave out the painfulness of pain or its negative affect. Its central argument proceeds by analysing the rationalising role of pains. According to it, representationalism is committed to a false picture on which a subject who knowingly acts so as to get rid of her pain without thereby getting rid of the bodily condition it represents always behaves irrationally-in so acting she is shooting the messenger. Thus, there can be no viable representationalist account of the phenomenal character of pain.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)509-519
Number of pages11
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number252
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


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