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.

chapter |14 pages


Pain research: where we are and why it matters

part Section 1|171 pages

The Nature Of Pain

part I-I|54 pages

Modeling pain in philosophy

part I-III|46 pages

Modeling pain in psychology

part Section II|131 pages

Theoretical Implications

part II-I|46 pages

Pain in philosophy of mind

chapter 15|12 pages

The lives of others

Pain in non-human animals

chapter 16|10 pages

Robot pain

chapter 17|11 pages

Pain and consciousness

chapter 18|12 pages


Perception or introspection?

part II-II|43 pages

Pain in epistemology

chapter 19|11 pages

Pain and rationality

chapter 20|10 pages

Pain and incorrigibility

chapter 21|11 pages

Can I see your pain?

An evaluative model of pain perception

chapter 22|10 pages

Pain and cognitive penetrability

part II-III|41 pages

Pain in philosophy of religion

chapter 23|11 pages

Sacred pain

The use of self-inflicted pain in religion

chapter 24|9 pages

The role of pain in Buddhism

The conquest of suffering

chapter 25|10 pages

Pain and the divine

part Section III|128 pages

Practical Implications

part III-I|47 pages

Pain in ethics

chapter 27|15 pages

Bad by nature

An axiological theory of pain

chapter 28|10 pages

Pain and torture

chapter 29|10 pages

Pain and education

chapter 30|11 pages

Pain and justified evaluative belief

part III-II|35 pages

Pain in medicine

part III-III|45 pages

Pain in law

chapter 34|13 pages

Pain and the law

chapter 36|11 pages

Fetal pain and the law

Abortion laws and their relationship to ideas about pain and fetal pain