Chapter

Hedonism

L. W. Sumner

in Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics

Published in print February 1999 | ISBN: 9780198238782
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679773 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198238782.003.0004
Hedonism

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There are two kinds of subjective theory which have dominated the modern period: hedonistic accounts, identifying welfare with pleasure and the absence of pain; and desire accounts, identifying it with the satisfaction of wants or preferences. This chapter focuses on hedonism. Hedonism underlines a truth which applies to all goods and ills, whether they consist merely in our feelings or include states of the world. This truth is that nothing can make our lives go better or worse unless it somehow affects the quality of our experience. Whether an adequate theory of welfare will have anything left of hedonism in it remains yet to be seen. But whether hedonistic or not, it will have to be experiential: it will have to connect our well-being in some way or other with our experience of the conditions of our lives.

Keywords: theory of welfare; hedonism; classical view; subjective theory; hedonistic welfare theory

Chapter.  13603 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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