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What Is It like to Feel Another’s Pain?*

Frédérique de Vignemont and Pierre Jacob
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 79, No. 2 (April 2012), pp. 295-316
DOI: 10.1086/664742
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/664742
Page Count: 22
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Abstract

We offer an account of empathetic pain that preserves the distinctions among standard pain, contagious pain, empathetic pain, sympathy for pain, and standard pain ascription. Vicarious experiences of both contagious and empathetic pain resemble to some extent experiences of standard pain. But there are also crucial dissimilarities. As neuroscientific results show, standard pain involves a sensorimotor and an affective component. According to our account, contagious pain consists in imagining the former, whereas empathetic pain consists in imagining the latter. We further argue that awareness of another’s standard pain is part of empathetic pain, but empathetic awareness of another’s standard pain differs from believing that another is in standard pain.

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