Murat Aydede


[On sabbatical leave until Jan '18]

University of British Columbia
Department of Philosophy
1866 Main Mall E370 (map)
Vancouver BC V6T 1Z1

Office: Buchanan E364

(604) 822-2443 (office)
(604) 822-3292 (dept office)
(604) 822-8782 (dept fax)

                     Murat Aydede
I work primarily in philosophy of psychology/cognitive science, and more generally, philosophy of mind. In recent years, I have increasingly focused on perceptual and affective consciousness. My current research involves developing a theory of sensory affect that would also illuminate perceptual consciousness. I have also been working on a book project developing an information-theoretic (but internalist) account of perceptual consciousness and its introspection with phenomenal concepts with an aim to show how to properly respond to various recent anti-physicalist arguments.

Short Bio: I received my B.A in philosophy in 1986 from Bogazici University (formerly, Robert College) in Istanbul, and my doctoral degree from University of Maryland at College Park (UMCP) in 1993.  After spending one and a half years at CSLI, Stanford, as a visiting scholar, I moved to the University of Chicago in October 1994 as an assistant professor. Between 2001 and 2007, I was an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Florida.  Since July 2007, I have been a professor in the Philosophy Department at UBC.

Here is an annotated bibliography listing (mostly) philosophical works on pain.

Some recent works:

  • "A Contemporary Account of Sensory Pleasure". This is a bit revised and slightly longer version of a chapter that will appear in Pleasure: A History, edited by Lisa Shapiro (Oxford University Press).
    • Abstract. Some sensations are pleasant, some unpleasant, and some are neither. Furthermore, those that are pleasant or unpleasant are so to different degrees. In this essay, I explore what kind of a difference is the difference between these three kinds of sensations. I develop a comprehensive three-level account of sensory pleasure that is simultaneously adverbialist, functionalist and is also a version of an experiential-desire account.
  • "Reasons and Theories of Sensory Affect" (with Matt Fulkerson). To appear in The Nature of Pain edited by David Bain, Michael Brady and Jennifer Corns. (It was originally written for a symposium on sensory affect at the 2014 Pacific APA meeting in San Diego.)
    • Abstract. Some sensory experiences are pleasant, some unpleasant. This is a truism. But understanding what makes these experiences pleasant and unpleasant is not an easy job. Various difficulties and puzzles arise as soon as we start theorizing. There are various philosophical theories on offer that seem to give different accounts for the positive or negative affective valences of sensory experiences. In this paper, we will look at the current state of art in the philosophy of mind, present the main contenders, critically compare and contrast them. In particular, we want to examine how they handle the reason-giving power of affective states. We will look into two representationalist proposals (Evaluativism and Imperativism) and a functionalist proposal, and argue that, contrary to their own advertisements, the representationalist proposals don’t have good accounts of why and how sensory affect can motivate, rationalize, and justify subsequent behavior and intentional mental activity. We will show that our own functionalist proposal does a much better job in this regard, and that when the representationalist proposals are modified to do a better job, they fare better not because of their representationalist credentials but due to their functionalist ones.
  • "Defending the IASP Definition of 'Pain'," penultimate draft of an article that will appear in a special issue of The Monist (written for an interdisciplinary audience -- please consult the final version for reference).
  • "Pain: Perception or Introspection?" [penultimate version] to appear in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Pain, edited by Jennifer Corns.
    • Abstract. I present the perceptualist/representationalist theories of pain in broad outline and critically examine them in light of a competing view according to which awareness of pain is essentially introspective. I end the essay with a positive sketch of a naturalistic proposal according to which pain experiences are intentional but not fully representational. This proposal makes sense of locating pains in body parts as well as taking pains as subjective experiences.
  • "Critical comments on Williams and Craig’s recent proposal for revising the definition of pain" (with Andrew Wright), forthcoming in Pain as a Letter to Editor. [Please send an email for a copy]
    • Abstract. Amanda Williams and Kenneth Craig, in a recent article in the IASP official journal Pain (DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000613), have recently argued that it is time to revise the IASP's well-trenched definition of 'pain'. They propose an alternative definition. We critically discuss their proposed revision and argue that it admits clear counterexamples as both sufficient and necessary conditions. We further discuss the wisdom of replacing 'unpleasant' in the IASP definition with 'distress' as Williams and Craig propose.
  • "How to Unify Theories of Sensory Pleasure: An Adverbialist Proposal," Review of Philosophy and Psychology
    5(1): 119-133, 2014. [Here is a slightly longer & revised version, January 2014]
  • "Affect: Representationalists' Headache" (with Matt Fulkerson), Philosophical Studies, 170(2): 175-198, 2014.
    DOI 10.1007/s11098-013-0206-7.
  • "Language of Thought Hypothesis" in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Sept 2010; new revised version coming soon)
  • "Is Feeling Pain the Perception of Something?" [PDF] Journal of Philosophy, October 2009.
  • "Pain" in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (May 2009; new revised version coming soon)
  • "A Short Primer on Situated Cognition" [PDF] (with Philip Robbins) in Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition edited by Philip Robbins & Murat Aydede, Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Review of Nikola Grahek's Feeling Pain and Being in Pain (MIT Press, 2007) [HTML]. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2008.01.02.
  • "Cognitive Architecture, Concepts, and Introspection: An Information-Theoretic Solution to the Problem of Phenomenal Consciousness" [PDF] Abstract (with Güven Güzeldere). Noûs, 39(2): 197-255, June 2005.

Working drafts: (Send me an email for a copy of the final versions.)

  • "Critical Notice of Colin Klein's What The Body Commands: The Imperative Theory of Pain (MIT 2015)"
    Text prepared for the Author-Meets-Critics session on Klein’s book at the Eastern APA Division Meeting, Baltimore, January 4, 2017.
    • This is a slightly more polished version of a presentation I wrote for the Eastern APA session. I’ve decided to post this commentary online pretty much as is, rather than rewrite it to produce a shortened, more structured and polished version as a critical notice suitable for a journal -- I am afraid I won’t have time for it. I hope the reader will find it helpful. At any rate, please treat this piece as a rough, and somewhat incomplete, draft originally intended to be delivered to a live audience. Although my commentary is mostly critical, I admire Colin's book for its originality, breadth, and depth. It stimulated my thought like no other books in recent years.
  • "Is the Pain Experience Transparent? Introspecting Phenomenal Qualities" (Comments would be appreciated!)
    • Abstract. I distinguish between two claims of transparency of experiences. One claim is weaker and supported by phenomenological evidence. This I call the Transparency Datum. Introspection of standard perceptual experiences as well as bodily sensations is consistent with, indeed supported by, the Transparency Datum. I formulate a stronger transparency thesis that is entailed by (strong) representationalism about experiential phenomenology. I point out some empirical consequences of strong transparency in the context of representationalism. I argue that pain experiences, as well as some other similar experiences like itches, tickles, orgasms, hedonic valence, etc., are not transparent in this strong sense. Hence they constitute empirical counterexamples to representationalism. Given that representationalism is a general metaphysical doctrine about all experiential phenomenology for good reasons, I conclude that representationalism about phenomenal consciousness is false. Then, I outline a framework about how the introspection of phenomenal qualities works in light of the Transparency Datum, but consistent with the rejection of strong transparency. The result is a form of qualia realism that is naturalist and intentionalist (weak representationalist), and has close affinities to the adverbialist views developed in the latter part of the last century. I then apply this framework to pain experiences and their bodily locations
  • "Do Pains and Pleasures Have Only Instrumental Value?"
  • "How to Combine Qualia Realism with Intentionalism about Perception"
  • "Secondary Qualities and the Grain Problem"
  • "Are Phenomenal Zombies Really Conceivable?" incomplete rough working draft (comments are welcome).

[Click here for (almost) a complete list of my works with abstracts]


The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition
(co-editor with Philip Robbins)

Cambridge University Press, 2009.  

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Pain: New Essays on Its Nature and the Methodology of Its Study (editor)

MIT Press, 2006.

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