Date of Award

Spring 4-22-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Andrew J. Cohen

Second Advisor

Christie Hartley

Third Advisor

Tim O'Keefe

Fourth Advisor

Sebastian Rand


In this thesis, I argue against a claim about pain which I call the "Minimization Thesis" or MT. According to MT, pain is objectively unconditionally intrinsically bad. Using the case of grief, I argue that although MT may be true of pain as such, it is not true of particular pains. I then turn to an examination of the justification provided by Thomas Nagle for offering the MT and find that his argument is inadequate because it depends on an implausible phenomenology of pain experience. I argue it is more plausible to claim, as Kant does, that pain has desire-conditional badness. Finally, I present a Nietzschean argument for the irreducible complexity of badness. I suggest we may be willing to concede pain's badness so readily only because it has not been specified what kind of badness it actually has.

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Philosophy Commons