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Summary There are two central questions here: (1) What is the relationship of pleasure to well-being? (Is all pleasure good for its subject? Is only pleasure (and pain avoidance) good for a person? Why are pleasurable experiences good for their subjects? Is it because of their phenomenology alone, or instead because of their subject’s attitude toward them?)  (2) What is the relationship of pleasure to the good? (Is all pleasure good? Is only pleasure (and pain avoidance) good? Is pleasure good only when, and because, it is good for somebody (i.e., increases somebody’s well-being)?)  Of particular interest are base pleasures (those, say, of bestiality), malicious pleasures (i.e., those taken in the misfortune of others), and repeated pleasures (i.e., ones that are qualitatively identical to past ones).
Key works The two key works are Crisp 2006 and Feldman 2004, both of which argue (though in different ways) that the value of a pleasure for a person may be affected by what the pleasure is taken in. Goldstein 2003 and Goldstein 1989 argue that all pleasure is good. For important recent work on the role of desire in the value of pleasure (and the reasons provided by pleasure), see Heathwood 2011, Sobel 2005, Sobel 2011, and Parfit 2011.
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  1. Douglas Adeney (1999). Evaluating the Pleasures of Cybersex. Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 1 (1):69-79.
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  2. Kenneth D. Alpern (1983). Aristotle on the Friendships of Utility and Pleasure. Journal of the History of Philosophy 21 (3):303-315.
    Utility- and pleasure-Friendship in the "nicomachean ethics" have commonly been held to be wholly self-Seeking relationships and of no great interest as forms of "friendship". Recently, John cooper has argued that these relationships essentially involve disinterested concern in a subtle blending of self- and other-Regarding purposes and causes. The article argues against cooper that disinterestedness has no part in these relationships but that they can nonetheless be seen as exhibiting trust, Sharing, Interdependence, And other virtues of interpersonal relationships.
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  3. David Bain & Michael Brady (2014). Pain, Pleasure, and Unpleasure. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 5 (1):1-14.
    Compare your pain when immersing your hand in freezing water and your pleasure when you taste your favourite wine. The relationship seems obvious. Your pain experience is unpleasant, aversive, negative, and bad. Your experience of the wine is pleasant, attractive, positive, and good. Pain and pleasure are straightforwardly opposites. Or that, at any rate, can seem beyond doubt, and to leave little more to be said. But, in fact, it is not beyond doubt. And, true or false, it leaves a (...)
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  4. David Benatar (2011). No Life is Good. The Philosophers' Magazine 53 (53):62-66.
    The worst pains seem to be worse than the best pleasures are good. Anybody who doubts this should consider what choice they would make if they wereoffered the option of securing an hour of the most sublime pleasures possible in exchange for suffering an hour of the worst pain possible.
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  5. Ben Bramble (2014). Whole-Life Welfarism. American Philosophical Quarterly 51 (1):63-74.
    In this paper, I set out and defend a new theory of value, whole-life welfarism. According to this theory, something is good only if it makes somebody better off in some way in his life considered as a whole. By focusing on lifetime, rather than momentary, well-being, a welfarist can solve two of the most vexing puzzles in value theory, The Badness of Death and The Problem of Additive Aggregation.
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  6. Ben Bramble (2013). The Distinctive Feeling Theory of Pleasure. Philosophical Studies 162 (2):201-217.
    In this article, I attempt to resuscitate the perennially unfashionable distinctive feeling theory of pleasure (and pain), according to which for an experience to be pleasant (or unpleasant) is just for it to involve or contain a distinctive kind of feeling. I do this in two ways. First, by offering powerful new arguments against its two chief rivals: attitude theories, on the one hand, and the phenomenological theories of Roger Crisp, Shelly Kagan, and Aaron Smuts, on the other. Second, by (...)
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  7. David Brax (2008). Pleasure in the Motivational System: Towards an Empirically Responsible Theory of Value. In Martin Jönsson (ed.), Proceedings of the Lund-Rutgers Conference. Lund University.
    Theories about value struggles with the problem how toaccount for the motivational force inherent to value judgments. Whereasthe exact role of motivation in evaluation is the subject of somecontroversy, it’s arguably a truism that value has something to do withmotivation. In this paper, I suggest that given that the role of motivationin ethical theory is left quite unspecific by the “truisms” or “platitudes”governing evaluative concepts, a scientific understanding of motivationcan provide a rich source of clues for how we might go (...)
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  8. Dan W. Brock (1983). Can Pleasure Be Bad for You? Hastings Center Report 13 (4):30-34.
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  9. Richard Bronaugh (1974). The Quality in Pleasures. Philosophy 49 (189):320 - 322.
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  10. Philip Cafaro (2001). Economic Consumption, Pleasure, and the Good Life. Journal of Social Philosophy 32 (4):471–486.
  11. Neil Cooper (1968). Pleasure and Goodness in Plato's Philebus. Philosophical Quarterly 18 (70):12-15.
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  12. Joseph L. Cowan (1968). Pleasure and Pain: A Study in Philosophical Psychology. Macmillan.
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  13. Roger Crisp (2007). Neutrality and Pleasure. Economics and Philosophy 23 (1):81-88.
    John Broome's ground-breaking Weighing Lives makes precise, and supplies arguments previously lacking for, several views which for centuries have been central to the utilitarian tradition. In gratitude for his enlightening arguments, I shall repay him in this paper by showing how he could make things easier for himself by denying neutrality and accepting hedonism.
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  14. Roger Crisp (2006). Hedonism Reconsidered. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (3):619–645.
    This paper is a plea for hedonism to be taken more seriously. It begins by charting hedonism's decline, and suggests that this is a result of two major objections: the claim that hedonism is the 'philosophy of swine', reducing all value to a single common denominator, and Nozick's 'experience machine' objection. There follows some elucidation of the nature of hedonism, and of enjoyment in particular. Two types of theory of enjoyment are outlined-intemalism, according to which enjoyment has some special 'feeling (...)
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  15. Roger Crisp (2004). Pleasure is All That Matters. Think 3 (7):21-30.
    Roger Crisp asks whether hedonism is quite as bad as is often supposed.
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  16. William H. Davis (1975). The Pleasure Helmet and the Super Pleasure Helmet. Journal of Thought 75.
    Is artificial satisfaction of our need for pleasure something we should develop? Article considered some of the possibilities.
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  17. Terence Dolan (1987). Pleasure, Preference and Value: Studies in Philosophical Aesthetics.
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  18. Steven M. Duncan, Pain and Evil.
    In this paper I defend the thesis that, considered simply as certain sorts of bodily sensations, pleasure is not the good nor is pain intrinsically evil. In fact, the opposite is largely the case: pursuit of pleasure is generally productive of ontic evil, and pain, when heeded, directs us toward the ontic good.
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  19. Walter Englert (1992). Epicurus' Ethical Theory: The Pleasures of Invulnerability. [REVIEW] Ancient Philosophy 12 (2):487-492.
  20. Epicurus (1994). Letter on Happiness. Chronicle Books.
    A best-seller in Europe following its original publication in 1993, this littel book takes on a big subject, offering enduring guidelines from the Greek philosopher Epicurus for achieving lasting happiness. In a letter to his friend Menoecceus, Epicurus gives sound advice on increasing life's pleasures, not through hedonistic pursuits, as commonly assumed, but through intelligence, morality, and decency. Based on a new translation of Epicurus to Menoecceus and complete with the original Greek text, Letter on Happiness expounds upon basic philosophical (...)
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  21. Fred Feldman (2007). Precis of Pleasure and the Good Life: Concerning the Nature, Varieties, and Plausiblity of Hedonism. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 136 (3):405 - 408.
  22. Fred Feldman (2004). Pleasure and the Good Life: Concerning the Nature, Varieties and Plausibility of Hedonism. Clarendon Press.
    Fred Feldman's fascinating new book sets out to defend hedonism as a theory about the Good Life. He tries to show that, when carefully and charitably interpreted, certain forms of hedonism yield plausible evaluations of human lives. Feldman begins by explaining the question about the Good Life. As he understands it, the question is not about the morally good life or about the beneficial life. Rather, the question concerns the general features of the life that is good in itself for (...)
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  23. Fred Feldman (1997). On the Intrinsic Value of Pleasures. Ethics 107:448-466.
    In this article, I first present the Sidgwickian conception of pleasure. I then present the resulting formulation of the hedonic thesis. Next I turn to arguments. I try to reveal the conceptual conflict at the heart of the thesis, so interpreted. In a final section, I sketch a more promising approach. I begin with some thoughts about the nature of pleasure.
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  24. Fred Feldman (1988). Two Questions About Pleasure. In D. F. Austin (ed.), Philosophical Analysis. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 59--81.
    In this paper, I present my solutions to two closely related questions about pleasure. One of these questions is fairly well known. The second question seems to me to be at least as interesting as the first, but it apparently hasn't interested quite so many philosophers.
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  25. David Gallop (1960). True and False Pleasures. Philosophical Quarterly 10 (41):331-342.
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  26. Lucius Garvin (1942). Pleasure Theory in Ethics and Esthetics. Journal of Philosophy 39 (3):57-63.
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  27. Benjamin Gibbs (1986). Higher and Lower Pleasures. Philosophy 61 (235):31 - 59.
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  28. M. S. Gilliland (1892). Pleasure and Pain in Education. International Journal of Ethics 2 (3):289-312.
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  29. Alan H. Goldman (2008). The Case Against Objective Values. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (5):507 - 524.
    While objective values need not be intrinsically motivating, need not actually motivate us, they would determine what we ought to pursue and protect. They would provide reasons for actions. Objective values would come in degrees, and more objective value would provide stronger reasons. It follows that, if objective value exists, we ought to maximize it in the world. But virtually no one acts with that goal in mind. Furthermore, objective value would exist independently of our subjective valuings. But we have (...)
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  30. Irwin Goldstein (2003). Malicious Pleasure Evaluated: Is Pleasure an Unconditional Good? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 84 (1):24–31.
    Pleasure is one of the strongest candidates for an occurrence that might be good, in some respect, unconditionally. Malicious pleasure is one of the most often cited alleged counter-examples to pleasure’s being an unconditional good. Correctly evaluating malicious pleasure is more complex than people realize. I defend pleasure’s unconditionally good status from critics of malicious pleasure.
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  31. Irwin Goldstein (1989). Pleasure and Pain: Unconditional Intrinsic Values. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (December):255-276.
    That all pleasure is good and all pain bad in itself is an eternally true ethical principle. The common claim that some pleasure is not good, or some pain not bad, is mistaken. Strict particularism (ethical decisions must be made case by case; there are no sound universal normative principles) and relativism (all good and bad are relative to society) are among the ethical theories we may refute through an appeal to pleasure and pain. Daniel Dennett, Philippa Foot, R M (...)
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  32. Irwin Goldstein (1980). Why People Prefer Pleasure to Pain. Philosophy 55 (July):349-362.
    Against Hume and Epicurus I argue that our selection of pleasure, pain and other objects as our ultimate ends is guided by reason. There are two parts to the explanation of our attraction to pleasure, our aversion to pain, and our consequent preference of pleasure to pain: 1. Pleasure presents us with reason to seek it, pain presents us reason to avoid it, and 2. Being intelligent, human beings (and to a degree, many animals) are disposed to be guided by (...)
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  33. A. C. Grayling (2007/2008). The Choice of Hercules: Pleasure, Duty and the Good Life in the 21st Century. Phoenix.
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  34. Pepita Haezrahi (1960). Pain and Pleasure: Some Reflections on Susan Stebbing's View That Pain and Pleasure Are Moral Values. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 11 (5):71 - 78.
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  35. Ishtiyaque Haji (2009). Incompatibilism's Threat to Worldly Value: Source Incompatibilism, Desert, and Pleasure. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (3):621-645.
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  36. Michael Hauskeller (2011). No Philosophy for Swine: John Stuart Mill on the Quality of Pleasures. Utilitas 23 (04):428-446.
    I argue that Mill introduced the distinction between quality and quantity of pleasures in order to fend off the then common charge that utilitarianism is ‘a philosophy for swine’ and to accommodate the (still) widespread intuition that the life of a human is better, in the sense of being intrinsically more valuable, than the life of an animal. I argue that in this he fails because in order to do successfully he would have to show not only that the life (...)
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  37. Dan Haybron (2007). Well-Being and Virtue. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 2 (2).
    Perfectionist views of well-being maintain that well-being ultimately consists, at least partly, in excellence or virtue. This paper argues that such views are untenable, focusing on Aristotelian perfectionism. The argument appeals, first, to intuitive counterexamples to perfectionism. A second worry is that it seems impossible to interpret perfection in a manner that yields both a plausible view of well-being and a strong link between morality and well-being. Third, perfectionist treatments of pleasure are deeply implausible. Fourth, perfectionism rests on a misunderstanding (...)
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  38. Chris Heathwood (2013). Hedonism. In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley.
    An encyclopedia entry on hedonistic theories of value and welfare -- the view, roughly, that pleasure is the good.
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  39. Chris Heathwood (2007). The Reduction of Sensory Pleasure to Desire. Philosophical Studies 133 (1):23-44.
    One of the leading approaches to the nature of sensory pleasure reduces it to desire: roughly, a sensation qualifies as a sensation of pleasure just in case its subject wants to be feeling it. This approach is, in my view, correct, but it has never been formulated quite right; and it needs to be defended against some compelling arguments. Thus the purpose of this paper is to discover the most defensible formulation of this rough idea, and to defend it against (...)
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  40. Jennifer Jacobs Henderson (2009). The Price of Pleasure is Too High. Journal of Mass Media Ethics 24 (4):322-324.
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  41. Robert W. Hoag (1992). J. S. Mill's Language of Pleasures. Utilitas 4 (02):247-.
  42. Jisu Huang (1998). Implications of Sacred Pleasure for China. World Futures 53 (1):37-40.
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  43. Thomas Hurka (2010). Asymmetries In Value. Noûs 44 (2):199-223.
    Values typically come in pairs. Most obviously, there are the pairs of an intrinsic good and its contrasting intrinsic evil, such as pleasure and pain, virtue and vice, and desert and undesert, or getting what one deserves and getting its opposite. But in more complex cases there can be contrasting pairs with the same value. Thus, virtue has the positive form of benevolent pleasure in another’s pleasure and the negative form of compassionate pain for his pain, while desert has the (...)
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  44. Thomas Hurka (2006). Value Theory. In David Copp (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory. Oxford University Press. 357--379.
  45. Sohail Inayatullah (1998). Implications of Sacred Pleasure for Cultural Evolution. World Futures 53 (1):41-51.
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  46. Alisdair Mac Intyre (1965). Pleasure as a Reason for Action. The Monist 49 (2):215 - 233.
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  47. Jack E. Karns (1990). Economics, Ethics, and Tort Remedies: The Emerging Concept of Hedonic Value. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 9 (9):707-713.
    This article reviews the development of hedonic value of life as a remedy in wrongful death and personal injury tort cases. Hedonic value estimates the worth of lost pleasures of living in an effort to compensate for intangible enjoyments, such as quality of education and environmental standards. This remedy goes well beyond the traditional approach which has compensated primarily for lost earnings and other expenses directly related to the tortious conduct. Most of the attention regarding hedonic value as a relatively (...)
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  48. John Kekes (2011). A Life Worth Living. The Philosophers' Magazine 53 (53):73-78.
    To enjoy life is to be pleased, delighted, and satisfied with it; to live with relish, to savour and take pleasure especially in parts of it we regard as important, and to want the life to continue by and large in the way it has been going. The most important thing we can do is live in a way that reflects what we most deeply care about.
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  49. John Kekes (2008/2010). Enjoyment: The Moral Significance of Styles of Life. Oxford University Press.
    In this book John Kekes examines the indispensable role enjoyment plays in a good life. The key to it is the development of a style of life that combines an attitude and a manner of living and acting that jointly express one's deepest concerns. Since such styles vary with characters and circumstances, a reasonable understanding of them requires attending to the particular and concrete details of individual lives. Reflection on works of literature is a better guide to this kind of (...)
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  50. Mara Lynn Keller (1998). Implications of Sacred Pleasure for Philosophy. World Futures 53 (1):57-59.
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