Pleasure and Hedonism in Sidgwick

Roger Crisp

in Underivative Duty

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199577446
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725425 | DOI:
Pleasure and Hedonism in Sidgwick

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This chapter begins by distinguishing different kinds of hedonism, and focuses in particular on welfare hedonism. Sidgwick's arguments for hedonism — based on appeals to intuition, and an analysis of common judgements — are explained, and some objections internal to Sidgwick's own epistemology are raised. An interpretation of Sidgwick's own account of pleasure is offered, and it is argued that Sidgwick is, despite several apparent claims to the contrary, an ‘internalist’ about pleasure, who believes that pleasantness constitutes an independently identifiable feeling common to all pleasurable experiences. Sidgwick's responses, or possible responses, to several common objections to hedonism are outlined. The objections discussed include the charges that hedonism must attribute value to evil pleasures, that hedonism is the ‘philosophy of swine’, that hedonists are committed to plugging in to an ‘experience machine’, and that hedonism is impracticable. A coda discusses pleasure and hedonism after Sidgwick.

Keywords: pleasure; Sidgwick; welfare; pleasantness

Chapter.  10128 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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