Pain and mere tastes: Toward an attitudinal-representational theory of Valenced perceptual experiences

Hilla Jacobson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Recently, I put forth a new account of the unpleasant, painful, aspect of the phenomenal character of pain. According to this account, which I term the “attitudinal-representational theory” (hereafter, “ART”), painfulness is constituted by a subjectively frustrated first-order negative conative (desire-like) attitude that is directed toward a bodily condition the pain represents as obtaining. 1 In what follows, I elaborate on ART, and locate it among alternative accounts. I put a special emphasis on the contrast between ART and pain-evaluativism, which I take to be its most formidable rival. I then suggest that theories of painfulness should be put to a scope challenge - namely, examining the plausibility of their applicability to other valenced perceptual experiences. To assess their plausibility with respect to this challenge, I present extended, general versions of both ART and evaluativism. In the rest of the chapter, I propose a new kind of consideration - one that pertains to the far-reaching variability of valenced gustatory experiences - that may prove fruitful in adjudicating between ART and evaluativism. I argue that ART better accommodates the phenomenon of valence variance. As far as pains are concerned, then, the argument will proceed from pains to “mere tastes” and back again. The chapter as a whole has two (interrelated) purposes: First, to lend further support to ART as a theory of unpleasant pain, and, second, to make some headway toward vindicating ART as a general theory of valenced perceptual experiences.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationPhilosophy of Suffering
Subtitle of host publicationMetaphysics, Value, and Normativity
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781351115452
ISBN (Print)9780815361787
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 selection and editorial matter, David Bain, Michael Brady, and Jennifer Corns; individual chapters, the contributors.


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