Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy




In the first paper of this dissertation, I argue that bodily experiences, such as pain and itch experiences, emotional experiences, and mood experiences have intentional content that supervenes on their phenomenal character. I call these kinds of experiences normative-evaluative experiences. I argue that these experiences have intentional content that is determined, at least in part, by their positive and negative phenomenal characters.

In the second paper of this dissertation, I examine the tracking representationalist theory of pain experience defended by Brian Cutter and Michael Tye. On their view, the phenomenal character of pain experience supervenes on its intentional content, which is determined by tracking relations that obtain between the experience and certain properties in the environment. I argue that this theory is false. There are cases of structural mismatch between pain experience’s phenomenal character and the tracked properties Cutter and Tye identify. These cases show that pain experience’s phenomenal character does not supervene on the intentional content Cutter and Tye propose. I then argue that alternative versions of tracking representationalist theories of pain experience are unlikely to fare any better for similar reasons.

Finally, in the third paper of this dissertation, following the view defended by David Chalmers in his paper “Perception and the Fall from Eden”, I argue that normative-evaluative experiences have two kinds of phenomenal content: a primitive Edenic content and a Fregean content. I propose a positive view of what these contents consist of.

Summary for Lay Audience

This dissertation focuses on the positive and negative feelings that accompany certain kinds of experience, such as pain experiences, depressive experiences, happy experiences, and so on. The goal of this project is to suggest that negative and positive feelings are about something or other—they are directed and say something about what they are directed at that is true or false. They are often about things in the world and say things about the world that are true or false. In short, I argue that these feelings have representational content and, moreover, they have the contents they do because of how they feel. I argue that what they represent is something primitive that evaluates things in the world, and that they also have content that reflects the role that these feelings play in our reasoning about the world and other things.