Imperatives, phantom pains, and hallucination by presupposition

Colin Klein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Several authors have recently argued that the content of pains (and bodily sensations more generally) is imperative rather than descriptive. I show that such an account can help resolve competing intuitions about phantom limb pain. As imperatives, phantom pains are neither true nor false. However, phantom limb pains presuppose falsehoods, in the same way that any imperative which demands something impossible presupposes a falsehood. Phantom pains, like many chronic pains, are thus commands that cannot be satisfied. I conclude by showing that some of the negative psychological consequences of chronic pain are a direct consequence of their imperative nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-928
Number of pages12
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Imperatives
  • Intentionalism
  • Pain
  • Phantom Limbs


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