Abortion Bioethics Chronic pain Fetal pain Philosophy

Pain as Fact and Heuristic

If you are like me, you aren’t sure what “heuristic” means. According to multiple sources, it is an experience-based technique for problem solving. In her new article,Pain as Fact and Heuristic: How Pain Neuroimaging Illuminates Moral Dimensions of Law, Professor Amanda C. Pustilnik argues against a simple understanding of physical pain as a justification for legal intervention. She suggests that consideration of pain as a basis of legislation is a reflection of our empathy for the subject of pain.

Professor Pustilnik “proposes a novel theory, the theory of “embodied morality,” to explain why statements about physical pain in law often serve a heuristic function. In describing the relationship between pain and empathy, the Article shows how moral conceptions of rights and duties are necessarily informed by human physicality and constrained by the limits of empathic identification. Pain measurement thus serves as the archetypal example of why it is necessary to understand embodied morality within the law to properly understand if, when, and how to adapt the findings of brain imaging to bodies of legal doctrine.”

Teresa Collett

Teresa Stanton Collett is a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she teaches bioethics, property law, and constitutional law. A nationally prominent speaker and scholar, she is active in attempts to rebuild the Culture of Life and protect the institutions of marriage and family. She often represents groups of state legislators, the Catholic Medical Association, and the Christian Medical and Dental Association in appellate case related to medical-legal matters. She represented the governors of Minnesota and North Dakota before the U.S. Supreme Court as amici curiae regarding the effectiveness of those states’ parental involvement laws. She has served as special attorney general for Oklahoma and Kansas related to legislation designed to protect the well-being of minors and unborn children. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute and has testified before committees of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittees on the Constitution, as well as numerous legislative committees in the states.