(1) I feel a pain in my fingertip
(2) The fingertip is in my mouth
(3) I feel a pain in my mouth
Tye's initial suggestion (C&P, p.52) invokes the opacity of representation. To experience pain "in" an area is merely for one's experience to represent pain (tissue damage) as being in that area. Because the information in (2) may not be included within the representation, (3) -- understood as the claim that you represent pain as being in your mouth -- does not follow. Such failure of substitution is a familiar feature of representations. (Compare Lois Lane's beliefs about Clark Kent/Superman.)
But this explanation seems misguided. Opacity problems derive from ignorance or incomplete representation (Lois doesn't know that Clark is Superman), whereas this doesn't seem essential to the pain problem. In fact, the problem doesn't seem to depend on the representational aspect of pain at all. Compare:
(1') There is tissue damage in my fingertip
(2') The fingertip is in my mouth
(3') There is tissue damage in my mouth
On the most natural reading, this argument is just as bad as the original one. So plainly the essential problem has nothing to do with representation. It's simply an ambiguity in the word "in". As Tye explains:
When there is a hollow physical object, O, the claim that something X is in O can be understood either to assert that X is within the cavity bounded by O or to assert that X is embedded within a portion of the cavity surround. (p.53)
Since my damaged finger is in my mouth, there is tissue damage "in" my mouth in the first sense, but plainly not the second -- it is not my mouth itself that is damaged. This carries over to the representations: a veridical experience will represent the pain as being "in" my mouth in the first sense but not the second, and indeed that seems to be exactly what happens. (I feel the pain in my finger, and my finger in my mouth. Hence I feel that there is a pain within my mouth -- specifically, in my finger -- even though it isn't the mouth itself that feels painful.) Thus the initial problem is cleared up nice and simply. So why couldn't Tye be clearer about it? (He doesn't explicate the argument as I do above.) As if this weren't irritating enough, he further muddies the waters:
Perhaps it will be replied that once different spatial senses of 'in' are admitted, that is all that is needed to explain the inference failure in the last case. The appeal to representation is otiose. This misses the point. The pain/experience of pain is not in my mouth in either spatial sense. To offer an explanation that supposes that it is is to offer an explanation based on false assumptions. And that is to offer no explanation at all. (pp.53-54)
Grrr. This really doesn't need to be that complicated. "The point", recall, is to explain the inference failure. The inference failure occurs because of the two senses of 'in'. It has nothing to do with referential opacity or substitution failure as a distinctive feature of representation -- that's a total red herring! Sure, representation may be relevant in the more general respect that experiences are representational, but it doesn't have any direct bearing on the particular point at hand. (Perhaps Tye has a different "point" in mind? Otherwise he seems to confuse "miss[ing]" the point with focusing on it! Bizarre.)
There are no "false assumptions" in my simple explanation above. The invalidity of the argument from (1') to (3') is precisely what explains why a representation of (1') -- as asserted by (1) -- doesn't imply a representation of (3') -- or the assertion of (3). My only assumption here is that experiences of pain represent something bodily (e.g. tissue damage), and that's an assumption that Tye himself grants! Whether we want to call this represented thing 'pain' is a merely terminological issue. But here's a quick argument suggesting that we should:
(P1) In general, experiences of X represent X.
Hence, (C1) Experiences of pain represent pain.
(P2) Experiences of pain represent bodily damage
Hence, (C2) Pain = bodily damage.
Of course, what we normally care about when we talk about 'pain' is really the feeling or experience as of pain. But if we want to distinguish the experience itself from the thing represented in experience, then this seems like a natural way to do it. Tye must agree that the thing represented by experiences of pain -- namely, bodily damage -- is "in my mouth in [one] spatial sense". If he denies that the same is true of 'pain', then our disagreement is merely terminological. He shouldn't think I'm making any substantive false assumptions here. I certainly don't think that the experience of pain is spatially located in the mouth, and no such claim figures in the simple explanation of the original inference failure. So there's no good reason to rebuke the simple explanation here.
Oh well, I guess I should quit growling and find something more productive to do. (Maybe sleep.)