The Intuitive Invalidity of the Pain-in-Mouth Argument

Michelle Liu

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In a recent paper, Reuter, Sienhold and Sytsma (2019) put forward an implicature account to explain the intuitive failure of the pain-in-mouth argument. They argue that utterances such as ‘there is tissue damage/a pain/an inflammation in my mouth’ carry the conversational implicature that there is something wrong with the speaker’s mouth. Appealing to new empirical data, this paper argues against the implicature account and for the entailment account, according to which pain reports using locative locutions, e.g. ‘There is a pain in my mouth’, are intuitively understood as entailing corresponding predicative locutions, e.g. ‘My mouth hurts’. On this latter account, the pain-in-mouth argument seems invalid because the conclusion is naturally understood as entailing something which cannot be inferred from the premises. Implications for the philosophical debate about pain are also drawn.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberanaa002
Pages (from-to) 463
Number of pages474
Issue number3
Early online date18 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2020


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