Single Idea 7442

[catalogued under 17. Mind and Body / C. Functionalism / 4. Causal Functionalism]

Full Idea

On my theory, 'pain' is a contingent name - that is, a name with different denotations in different possible worlds - since in any world, 'pain' names whatever state happens in that world to occupy the causal role definitive of pain.

Gist of Idea

'Pain' contingently names the state that occupies the causal role of pain


David Lewis (An Argument for the Identity Theory [1966], žII n6)

Book Reference

Lewis,David: 'Philosophical Papers Vol.1' [OUP 1983], p.101

A Reaction

Better to say that 'pain' (like 'sound') is ambiguous. It is indiscriminately used by English-speakers to mean [1] the raw quale that we experience when damaged, and [2] whatever it is that leads to pain behaviour. Maybe frogs have 2 but not 1.