Pain and Nature of Minds

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Charles Darwin, reflecting on evolutionary history, famously exclaimed, "What a book a devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel work of nature."

Recent critics of religious belief have argued with increasing ardor and rancor that the nature, duration, and quantity of evil, especially so-called "natural evil," shows us that the world is, after all, blind, pitiless, and indifferent.

This component of the project addressed part of this issue by examining questions about the nature and potential utility of pain and suffering, about the nature and moral significance of qualitative differences in the capacities of organisms to experience pain and suffering, and about the relationship between pain and such goods as creativity, freedom and moral development.

This component funded multisite, multiyear empirical and conceptual research, fellowships, conferences, workshops, dissertation fellowships, and public events. Given the multi-disciplinary nature of this issue, research was encouraged from a wide variety of disciplines in both the humanities and natural sciences.