About this topic
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 gluttony, sex, and so on), malicious pleasures (i.e., those taken in the pain or misfortune of others), and repeated pleasures (i.e., ones that are qualitatively identical to past ones).
Key works 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. Evaluating the Pleasures of Cybersex.Douglas Adeney - 1999 - Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 1 (1):69-79.
  2. Aristotle on the Friendships of Utility and Pleasure.Kenneth D. Alpern - 1983 - 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.
  3. Review of Kurt Lampe, The Birth of Hedonism: The Cyrenaic Philosophers and Pleasure as a Way of Life. [REVIEW]Kelly E. Arenson - 2016 - Polis 33 (1):205-9.
  4. A Contemporary Account of Sensory Pleasure.Murat Aydede - forthcoming - In Lisa Shapiro (ed.), Pleasure: A History. Oxford University Press.
    [This is the penultimate version, please send me an email for the final version]. Some sensations are pleasant, some unpleasant, and some are neither. Furthermore, those that are pleasant or unpleasant are so to different degrees. In this essay, I want to explore what kind of a difference is the difference between these three kinds of sensations. I will develop a comprehensive three-level account of sensory pleasure that is simultaneously adverbialist, functionalist and is also a version of a satisfied experiential-desire (...)
  5. Pain, Pleasure, and Unpleasure.David Bain & Michael Brady - 2014 - 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 (...)
  6. No Life is Good.David Benatar - 2011 - 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.
  7. The Case Against Meat.Ben Bramble - forthcoming - In Ben Bramble Bob Fischer (ed.), The Moral Complexities of Eating Meat. Oxford University Press.
    There is a simple but powerful argument against the human practice of raising and killing animals for food (RKF for short). It goes like this: 1. RKF is extremely bad for animals. 2. RKF is only trivially good for human beings Therefore, 3. RKF should be stopped. While many consider this argument decisive, not everyone is convinced. There have been four main lines of objection to it. In this paper, I provide new responses to these four objections.
  8. The Role of Pleasure in Well-Being.Ben Bramble - forthcoming - In Guy Fletcher (ed.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Well-Being. Routledge.
    What is the role of pleasure in determining a person’s well-being? I start by considering the nature of pleasure (i.e., what pleasure is). I then consider what factors, if any, can affect how much a given pleasure adds to a person’s lifetime well-being other than its degree of pleasurableness (i.e., how pleasurable it is). Finally, I consider whether it is plausible that there is any other way to add to somebody’s lifetime well-being than by giving him some pleasure or helping (...)
  9. Evolutionary Debunking Arguments and Our Shared Hatred of Pain.Ben Bramble - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 12 (1).
  10. A New Defense of Hedonism About Well-Being.Ben Bramble - 2016 - Ergo, an Open Access Journal of Philosophy 3.
    According to hedonism about well-being, lives can go well or poorly for us just in virtue of our ability to feel pleasure and pain. Hedonism has had many advocates historically, but has relatively few nowadays. This is mainly due to three highly influential objections to it: The Philosophy of Swine, The Experience Machine, and The Resonance Constraint. In this paper, I attempt to revive hedonism. I begin by giving a precise new definition of it. I then argue that the right (...)
  11. Whole-Life Welfarism.Ben Bramble - 2014 - 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.
  12. The Distinctive Feeling Theory of Pleasure.Ben Bramble - 2013 - 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 (...)
  13. Pleasure in the Motivational System: Towards an Empirically Responsible Theory of Value.David Brax - 2008 - 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 (...)
  14. Can Pleasure Be Bad for You?Dan W. Brock - 1983 - Hastings Center Report 13 (4):30-34.
  15. The Quality in Pleasures.Richard Bronaugh - 1974 - Philosophy 49 (189):320 - 322.
  16. Economic Consumption, Pleasure, and the Good Life.Philip Cafaro - 2001 - Journal of Social Philosophy 32 (4):471–486.
  17. Pleasure and Desire: The Case for Hedonism. [REVIEW]Richmond Campbell - 1972 - Philosophical Review 81 (1):116.
  18. Pleasure and Intrinsic Goodness.Earl Brink Conee - 1980 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    The Appendix considers whether instrumental value of any sort depends upon intrinsic goodness. It is argued that most familiar sorts do not so depend, but one can be shown to do so by a kind of First Cause argument. ;Chapter IV begins with an attempt to give a clear and complete formulation of hedonism--the theory according to which only pleasure is intrinsically good. The formulation builds upon the efforts of Warren Quinn and Edward Oldfield. Then an argument against hedonism by (...)
  19. Pleasure and Goodness in Plato's Philebus.Neil Cooper - 1968 - Philosophical Quarterly 18 (70):12-15.
  20. Pleasure and Pain: A Study in Philosophical Psychology.Joseph L. Cowan - 1968 - Macmillan.
  21. Neutrality and Pleasure.Roger Crisp - 2007 - 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.
  22. Hedonism Reconsidered.Roger Crisp - 2006 - 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 (...)
  23. Pleasure is All That Matters.Roger Crisp - 2004 - Think 3 (7):21-30.
    Roger Crisp asks whether hedonism is quite as bad as is often supposed.
  24. The Pleasure Helmet and the Super Pleasure Helmet.William H. Davis - 1975 - Journal of Thought 75.
    Is artificial satisfaction of our need for pleasure something we should develop? Article considered some of the possibilities.
  25. Pleasure, Preference and Value: Studies in Philosophical Aesthetics.Terence Dolan - 1987 - National University of Ireland.
  26. Pain and Evil.Steven M. Duncan - manuscript
    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.
  27. Epicurus' Ethical Theory: The Pleasures of Invulnerability. [REVIEW]Walter Englert - 1992 - Ancient Philosophy 12 (2):487-492.
  28. Letter on Happiness. Epicurus - 1994 - 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 (...)
  29. Precis of Pleasure and the Good Life: Concerning the Nature, Varieties, and Plausiblity of Hedonism.Fred Feldman - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (3):405-408.
  30. Pleasure and the Good Life: Concerning the Nature, Varieties and Plausibility of Hedonism.Fred Feldman - 2004 - 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 (...)
  31. On the Intrinsic Value of Pleasures.Fred Feldman - 1997 - Ethics 107 (3):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.
  32. Two Questions About Pleasure.Fred Feldman - 1988 - In D. F. Austin (ed.), Philosophical Analysis. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 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.
  33. Plato on Pure Pleasure and the Best Life.Emily Fletcher - 2014 - Phronesis 59 (2):113-142.
    In the Philebus, Socrates maintains two theses about the relationship between pleasure and the good life: the mixed life of pleasure and intelligence is better than the unmixed life of intelligence, and: the unmixed life of intelligence is the most divine. Taken together, these two claims lead to the paradoxical conclusion that the best human life is better than the life of a god. A popular strategy for avoiding this conclusion is to distinguish human from divine goods; on such a (...)
  34. Renunciation, Pleasure, and the Good Life in the Saṃnyāsa Upaniṣads.Christopher G. Framarin - 2017 - Philosophy East and West 67 (1):140-159.
    The Saṃnyāsa Upaniṣads characterize the life of the saṃnyāsin as devoid of earthly pleasures. At the same time, these and other texts record confusion and suspicion toward those who would pursue such a life, and disbelief that such severe austerity could be required. To many, the saṃnyāsin seems to forsake the good life in forsaking earthly pleasures. I call this the ‘Precluded Pleasures Objection’ to the saṃnyāsin ideal. A number of replies to the Precluded Pleasures Objection might be drawn from (...)
  35. True and False Pleasures.David Gallop - 1960 - Philosophical Quarterly 10 (41):331-342.
  36. Pleasure Theory in Ethics and Esthetics.Lucius Garvin - 1942 - Journal of Philosophy 39 (3):57-63.
  37. Higher and Lower Pleasures.Benjamin Gibbs - 1986 - Philosophy 61 (235):31 - 59.
    In the second chapter of Utilitarianism John Stuart Mill writes: It is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognise the fact, that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others. It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone.
  38. Pleasure-Extract.Thomas Gilby - 1932 - New Blackfriars 13 (151):602-607.
  39. Pleasure and Pain in Education.M. S. Gilliland - 1892 - International Journal of Ethics 2 (3):289-312.
  40. The Case Against Objective Values.Alan H. Goldman - 2008 - 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 (...)
  41. Pleasure, Pain, and Emotion.Goldstein Irwin - unknown
    In this dissertation I analyse the concepts of pleasure and unpleasantness and outline an approach whereby the insights gained about pleasure and unpleasantness are applied to the analysis of a number of feeling and emotion concepts. In trying to understand what pleasure is and hew it is related to pain and unpleasantness, I tackle various basic questions about the role of pleasure, pain, and unpleasantness in motivation and about the intrinsic goodness of pleasure and the intrinsic badness of pain and (...)
  42. Malicious Pleasure Evaluated: Is Pleasure an Unconditional Good?Irwin Goldstein - 2003 - 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.
  43. Intersubjective Properties by Which We Specify Pain, Pleasure, and Other Kinds of Mental States.Irwin Goldstein - 2000 - Philosophy 75 (291):89-104.
    By what types of properties do we specify twinges, toothaches, and other kinds of mental states? Wittgenstein considers two methods. Procedure one, direct, private acquaintance: A person connects a word to the sensation it specifies through noticing what that sensation is like in his own experience. Procedure two, outward signs: A person pins his use of a word to outward, pre-verbal signs of the sensation. I identify and explain a third procedure and show we in fact specify many kinds of (...)
  44. Pleasure and Pain: Unconditional Intrinsic Values.Irwin Goldstein - 1989 - 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 (...)
  45. Why People Prefer Pleasure to Pain.Irwin Goldstein - 1980 - 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 (...)
  46. Wright's Ethical Significance of Feeling, Pleasure, and Happiness in Modern Non-Hedonistic Systems. [REVIEW]Kate Gordon - 1908 - Journal of Philosophy 5 (8):217.
  47. The Choice of Hercules: Pleasure, Duty and the Good Life in the 21st Century.A. C. Grayling - 2007 - Phoenix.
  48. Is Unhappiness Morally More Important Than Happiness?James Griffin - 1979 - Philosophical Quarterly 29 (114):47-55.
    The view that the obligation to promote happiness is, as Popper puts it, "in any case much less urgent" than the obligation to eliminate unhappiness we might call the "Negative Doctrine". I know of no plausible form of the Negative Doctrine.
  49. Pain and Pleasure: Some Reflections on Susan Stebbing's View That Pain and Pleasure Are Moral Values. [REVIEW]Pepita Haezrahi - 1960 - Philosophical Studies 11 (5):71 - 78.
  50. Hedonic Sensibility and the Construction of Goodness.William Arthur Haines - 1997 - Dissertation, Harvard University
    Hedonism is the view that what ultimately matters is just how much pleasure there is; pleasure is the ultimate good. I focus on metaethical and moral criticisms of this view. I propose and defend a new version of Hedonism that addresses familiar metaethical and moral worries about Hedonism. ;Hedonism as I understand it is a promissory note for a general theory of goodness whereby goodness descends in chains from the ultimate good. To be good is to bear some transitive relation (...)
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