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Presentation



Workshop "Suffering and Cognition"

The Value of Suffering Project

Paris, April, 25th



Venue: Maison de la recherche, 28 Rue Serpente, 75006 Paris.

This workshop will focus on the research of the following presenters: Michael Brady, Marcel Brass, Jennifer Corns, Antonio Damasio, and Stephane Lemaire.

Institut Jean-Nicod, Paris IV-Sorbonne, University of Glasgow

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Programme

9.30-10:00: Registration, Tea and Coffee

10.00-11.20: Session 1

Stéphane Lemaire
How Pain Relates to Value?

11.30-12.50: Session 2

Michael Brady
Reasons to Suffer

1.00-2.50: Lunch Break

3.00-4.20: Session 3

Marcel Brass
Empathy for Pain and Sense of Agency

4.20-5.00: Coffee Break

5.00-6.20: Session 4

Jennifer Corns
The Placebo Effect and our “Bottom-Up Bias”
 

Session 1
Stéphane Lemaire

Université de Rennes 1 & Jean Nicod Institute, France

How Pain Relates to Value?

Among the debates that bear upon the nature of pain, a moot question is whether pain represents some sort of value or is itself a value. In this paper, I suggest that both hypotheses are somehow correct. My starting point to overcome this opposition is to show that even if pain represents some value, it does so non-transparently. I argue therefore that one must distinguish between the value that pain represents, the role that pain have in our attributing values to circumstances and the value of pain itself as a potential motivator. Moreover, I attempt to show how all these elements can and must be integrated. In addition, I wonder whether all the factors that can modulate the unpleasantness of pain can be understood in terms or representation and, therefore, how these modulations favour a representational theory of pain. Finally, I assess the cognitive consequences of this approach to pain.

Notes:

Session 2
Michael Brady

University of Glasgow, UK

Reasons to Suffer

There are reasons to believe, intend, desire, act. But are there reasons to suffer? This paper considers arguments in favour of and against the claim that suffering can be a rational response to our circumstances, and investigates the implications this question has for the question of whether (and to what extent) suffering is a cognitive mental state.

Notes:

Session 3
Marcel Brass

Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, Belgium

Empathy for Pain and Sense of Agency
 
The general aim of my talk is to outline the relationship of empathy for pain and sense of agency. In the first part of my talk I will report a series of experiments, in which we investigate how being imitated by someone else affects empathy for pain. We show that empathy for pain is enhanced for someone who is imitating us. In the second part of my talk, I will present an experiment investigating how inflicting pain on someone else affects our sense of agency. In this experiment we show a reduced sense of agency for actions that lead to pain in someone else. Both studies suggest that there is an intimate link between our sense of agency and empathy for pain. We experience more empathy for pain when we exert control over the person that is in pain. Furthermore, we experience a reduced sense of agency when our actions have painful consequences for someone else.

Notes:

Session 4
Jennifer Corns
University of Glasgow, UK

The Placebo Effect and our “Bottom-Up Bias”

The placebo effect has been subject to an increasing number of multidisciplinary inquiries. These inquiries rest on the assumption that the placebo effect (or the class of placebo effects) is an appropriate target of investigation. It is assumed that the placebo effect can be usefully characterized, modelled, and—as far as ethically permissible—exploited for treatment. In this talk, I argue that this assumption is incorrect. I first look at what the placebo effect is supposed to be: I canvass presented cases of it and critically evaluate its dichotomous characterizations.  I then turn to why we meet need to recognize a class of placebo effects: in particular, I discuss and offer improved re-conceptualizations of (i) inquiries into the supposed mechanisms of the placebo effect; (ii) the supposed role of the placebo effect in randomized controlled trials; and (iii) the supposed treatment benefits of exploiting the placebo effect. Finally, I look at why such a class of effects is intuitive: I suggest that this intuition is best explained by what I’ll dub the ‘bottom-up bias’. Once we recognize the integration and modulatory interaction of our bodily systems and mechanisms, the intuition that there is a distinct class of effects—placebo effects—should be much less tempting.

Notes:

This workshop is part of the larger project entitled “The Value of Suffering: An Interdisciplinary Investigation of the Nature, Meaning, and Role of Affective Experiences.” The VOS project is an international, interdisciplinary investigation into suffering in particular and affective experiences in general.


The project is funded by the John Templeton Foundation and hosted at the University of Glasgow.

For more information about the project and our research team, please visit:
www.valueofsuffering.co.uk

 

 


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