Mill and the Consistency of Hedonism

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael Zimmerman, Professor and Philosophy Pre-Law Concentration Advisor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Hedonism, it is sometimes claimed, is irredeemably vulgar; for it implies that there is nothing noble in life, that the pleasures that life affords are to be equally valued, no matter what their object. In his book Utilitarianism John Stuart Mill takes exception to this claim. When defending the hedonism which underlies his utilitarianism, Mill suggests that the value of a given pleasure is contingent in part on its quality and that this fact allows one to distinguish different grades of pleasure, thus preserving a superior niche for the more noble of Ws pursuits. But many consider Mill's suggestion so be in real effort consistent with hedonism itself. Only recently has there been any effort to acquit Mill of this charge of inconsistency. It seems to me that the discussions available in the literature leave the issue really quite murky. In this paper I shall try, first, to come to a clearer understanding of hedonism by distinguishing and commenting briefly on various versions of it and, secondly, to show that, while the theory of value which Mill apparently espouses seems not to be inconsistent with hedonism, nevertheless it may well be inconsistent with other views that he holds.

Additional Information

Philosophia, 13 (1983): 317-335
Language: English
Date: 1983
Hedonism, John Stuart Mill, views, pleasure

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