12 October 2007

Why pains can't be privations

I've looked all over for someone making the most obvious and powerful objection to privation theories. Thank you Stanley Kane:
The difficulty is that pain seems clearly to be more than merely the absence of its contrary opposite. There is a marked difference between a limb which merely lacks feeling is numb or paralyzed or anesthetized and one that is racked with pain. In the former case it is quite plausible to say that is merely a privation of something, namely normal feeling, that under usual circumstances would belong to the limb. But it is clearly inadequate to describe a limb aching with pain as suffering merely a privation of good health or normal feeling. When pain occurs in the body, there is something new and different in a person’s experience which is not present when the body has simply lost feeling.

G.Stanley Kane, "Evil and Privation" Int J Phil Rel 11 (1980) 43-58