cSCAN Rounds

Suffering and social interaction

Suffering can, in the right conditions, have positive effects on the individual who suffers: pain can facilitate damage avoidance and promote bodily repair, disappointment can motivate us to do better next time. But suffering can also have positive effects for groups as a result of social interaction. In this paper I’ll discuss four ways in which this can happen: (i) suffering can promote social justice and communicate group values; (ii) suffering can facilitate reconciliation and social functioning; (iii) suffering can promote the social virtues of benevolence and compassion; and (iv) suffering can have epistemic value as a test for socially valuable traits and characteristics.