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. added 2020-06-16
    Exceptions in Nonderivative Value.Garrett Cullity - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (1):26-49.
    According to most substantive axiological theories – theories telling us which things are good and bad – pleasure is nonderivatively good. This seems to imply that it is always good, even when directed towards a bad object, such as another person’s suffering. This implication is accepted by the Mainstream View about misdirected pleasures: it holds that when someone takes pleasure in another person’s suffering, his being pleased is good, although his being pleased by suffering is bad. This view gains some (...)
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  2. added 2020-02-11
    Epicurus' Ethical Theory: The Pleasures of Invulnerability.David K. O'Connor - 1991 - Ethics 101 (3):657-658.
  3. added 2019-06-06
    Millian Qualitative Superiorities and Utilitarianism, Part I*: Jonathan Riley.Jonathan Riley - 2008 - Utilitas 20 (3):257-278.
    Arrhenius and Rabinowicz have argued that Millian qualitative superiorities are possible without assuming that any pleasure, or type of pleasure, is infinitely superior to another. But AR's analysis is fatally flawed in the context of ethical hedonism, where the assumption in question is necessary and sufficient for Millian qualitative superiorities. Marginalist analysis of the sort pressed by AR continues to have a valid role to play within any plausible version of hedonism, provided the fundamental incoherence that infects AR's use of (...)
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  4. added 2019-06-06
    Mill's Higher Pleasures and the Choice of Character*: Roderick T. Long.Roderick T. Long - 1992 - Utilitas 4 (2):279-297.
    J. S. Mill's distinction between higher and lower pleasures is often thought to conflict with his commitment to psychological and ethical hedonism: if the superiority of higher pleasures is quantitative, then the higher/lower distinction is superfluous and Mill contradicts himself; if the superiority of higher pleasures is not quantitative, then Mill's hedonism is compromised.
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  5. added 2019-06-06
    J. S. Mill's Language of Pleasures*: Robert W. Hoag.Robert W. Hoag - 1992 - Utilitas 4 (2):247-278.
    A significant feature of John Stuart Mill's moral theory is the introduction of qualitative differences as relevant to the comparative value of pleasures. Despite its significance, Mill presents his doctrine of qualities of pleasures in only a few paragraphs in the second chapter of Utilitarianism, where he begins the brief discussion by saying: utilitarian writers in general have placed the superiority of mental over bodily pleasures chiefly … in their circumstantial advantages rather than in their intrinsic nature.… [B]ut they might (...)
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  6. added 2019-06-06
    Mill’s Higher and Lower Pleasures Reexamined.Mark Strasser - 1985 - International Studies in Philosophy 17 (3):51-72.
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  7. added 2019-03-11
    Attitudinal and Phenomenological Theories of Pleasure.Eden Lin - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3):510-524.
    On phenomenological theories of pleasure, what makes an experience a pleasure is the way it feels. On attitudinal theories, what makes an experience a pleasure is its relationship to the favorable attitudes of the subject who is having it. I advance the debate between these theories in two ways. First, I argue that the main objection to phenomenological theories, the heterogeneity problem, is not compelling. While others have argued for this before, I identify an especially serious version of this problem (...)
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  8. added 2019-03-08
    Against Time Bias.Preston Greene & Meghan Sullivan - 2015 - Ethics 125 (4):947-970.
    Most of us display a bias toward the near: we prefer pleasurable experiences to be in our near future and painful experiences to be in our distant future. We also display a bias toward the future: we prefer pleasurable experiences to be in our future and painful experiences to be in our past. While philosophers have tended to think that near bias is a rational defect, almost no one finds future bias objectionable. In this essay, we argue that this hybrid (...)
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  9. added 2019-01-08
    Suffering Pains.Olivier Massin - forthcoming - In Jennifer Corns & Michael S. Brady David Bain (ed.), Philosophy of Suffering. London: Routledge.
    The paper aims at clarifying the distinctions and relations between pain and suffering. Three negative theses are defended: 1. Pain and suffering are not identical. 2. Pain is not a species of suffering, nor is suffering a species of pain, nor are pain and suffering of a common (proximate) genus. 3. Suffering cannot be defined as the perception of a pain’s badness, nor can pain be defined as a suffered bodily sensation. Three positive theses are endorsed: 4. Pain and suffering (...)
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  10. added 2018-09-24
    Art, Pleasure, Value: Reframing the Questions.Mohan Matthen - 2018 - Philosophic Exchange 47 (1).
    In this essay, I’ll argue, first, that an art object's aesthetic value (or merit) depends not just on its intrinsic properties, but on the response it evokes from a consumer who shares the producer's cultural background. My question is: what is the role of culture in relation to this response? I offer a new account of aesthetic pleasure that answers this question. On this account, aesthetic pleasure is not just a “feeling” or “sensation” that results from engaging with a work (...)
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  11. added 2018-05-21
    Is Pleasure All That is Good About Experience?Willem Deijl - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies 176 (7):1-19.
    Experientialist accounts of wellbeing are those accounts of wellbeing that subscribe to the experience requirement. Typically, these accounts are hedonistic. In this article I present the claim that hedonism is not the most plausible experientialist account of wellbeing. The value of experience should not be understood as being limited to pleasure, and as such, the most plausible experientialist account of wellbeing is pluralistic, not hedonistic. In support of this claim, I argue first that pleasure should not be understood as a (...)
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  12. added 2018-04-15
    Inner Virtue.Nicolas Bommarito - 2018 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    What does it mean to be a morally good person? It can be tempting to think that it is simply a matter of performing certain actions and avoiding others. And yet there is much more to moral character than our outward actions. We expect a good person to not only behave in certain ways but also to experience the world in certain ways within.
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  13. added 2018-02-26
    Painism Defended.Richard D. Ryder - 2015 - Think 14 (41):47-55.
    In a previous essay, Richard Ryder argued against Utilitarianism's aggregation of pains across individuals. He continues this argument and rebuts several criticisms of his moral theory of painism. Painism not only rejects the aggregation of pains across individuals, it also questions the trade-off of pains against pleasures.
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  14. added 2018-02-19
    Review of William Kelly Wright, The Ethical Significance of Feeling, Pleasure, and Happiness in Modern Non-Hedonistic Systems. [REVIEW]Kate Gordon - 1908 - Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 5 (8):217-219.
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  15. added 2018-01-29
    Summary of J. Seth, "Is Pleasure the Summum Bonum?".Ellen B. Talbot - 1896 - Philosophical Review 5:549.
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  16. added 2018-01-11
    The Limits of Hedonism: Feldman on the Value of Attitudinal Pleasure.Serena Olsaretti - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (3):409-415.
    This paper is part of a book symposium on Fred Feldman's, *Pleasure and the Good Life*. I argue that Feldman’s defence of hedonism, although successful on its own terms, is of less significance than it may seem at first, for two main reasons. First, Feldman’s defence of the claim that attitudinal pleasures are the chief good is either implausible or crucially incomplete. Second, Feldman’s claim that hedonists can overcome the objections levelled against them while remaining pure hedonists is only partially (...)
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  17. added 2018-01-11
    Review of Feldman, Pleasure and the Good Life. [REVIEW]Georges Chapouthier - 2004 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 194 (3):363.
  18. added 2018-01-08
    About the Benefits of Pleasure-in-Others’-Misfortune. Aaron Ben-Ze’Ev’s Depiction of Emotions as Adaptive Mechanisms.Magdalena Michalik-Jeżowska - 2016 - Studia Humana 5 (3):53-69.
    This paper was inspired by two ideas: the concept of emotions as adaptive mechanisms, which was suggested by Aaron Ben-Ze’ev, and Robert Solomon’s criticism of the distinction between “positive” and “negative” emotions which functions in social sciences. In the context of the above mentioned theoretical perspectives I consider the infamous emotion of pleasure-in-others’-misfortune in terms of possible benefits for the experiencing subject. I focus especially on supposed adaptive quality of pleasure-in-others’-aging.
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  19. added 2017-12-11
    Review of Fred Feldman, Pleasure and the Good Life. [REVIEW]Roger Crisp - 2006 - Philosophical Quarterly 56 (222):152-154.
  20. added 2017-12-11
    Summary of F. J. E. Woodbridge, "The Place of Pleasure in a System of Ethics".J. S. - 1897 - Philosophical Review 6:671.
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  21. added 2017-11-27
    Taking Pleasure in the Good and Well-Being: The Harmless Pleasures Objection.James Delaney - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (2):281-294.
    Well-being is that which is non-instrumentally good for a person. It is identical to how well someone's life goes. There are three main theories of well-being: hedonism, desire-fulfillment, and objective list theories. Each of these theories is subject to criticism, which has led some philosophers to posit a hybrid theory in which well-being is defined as taking pleasure in objective goods. One problem that comes with such an account is the possibility of what I will call harmless pleasures; that is, (...)
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  22. added 2017-11-27
    Is Pleasure Merely An Instrumental Good? Reply to Pianalto.Tully Ian - 2018 - Journal of Value Inquiry 52 (1):135-138.
    The view that pleasure's value might be merely instrumental has not received much support from philosophers. Indeed, few things seem more clearly to be of intrinsic value than pleasure. However, Matthew Pianalto has provided a sophisticated defense of the purely instrumental view. In this paper I respond to Pianalto's argument. I defend it from some recent criticism, while nevertheless ultimately concluding that it fails.
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  23. added 2017-11-27
    Pleasure as Self‐Discovery.Samuel Clark - 2012 - Ratio 25 (3):260-276.
    This paper uses readings of two classic autobiographies, Edmund Gosse's Father & Son and John Stuart Mill's Autobiography, to develop a distinctive answer to an old and central question in value theory: What role is played by pleasure in the most successful human life? A first section defends my method. The main body of the paper then defines and rejects voluntarist, stoic, and developmental hedonist lessons to be taken from central crises in my two subjects' autobiographies, and argues for a (...)
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  24. added 2017-10-08
    Evolutionary Debunking Arguments and Our Shared Hatred of Pain.Ben Bramble - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 12 (1):94-101.
    This article responds to an argument from Katarzyna de Ladari-Radek and Peter Singer in their article, "The Objectivity of Ethics and the Unity of Practical Reason.".
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  25. added 2017-02-13
    Pleasure, Pain, and Emotion.Irwin Goldstein - 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 (...)
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  26. added 2017-01-10
    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 (...)
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  27. added 2017-01-09
    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 (...)
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  28. added 2017-01-09
    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 (...)
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  29. added 2017-01-09
    CHAPTER 3. Knowledge and Pleasure.Kurt Lampe - 2014 - In The Birth of Hedonism: The Cyrenaic Philosophers and Pleasure as a Way of Life. Princeton University Press. pp. 26-55.
  30. added 2017-01-09
    Review of J. C. B. Gosling, Pleasure and Desire: The Case for Hedonism. [REVIEW]Richmond Campbell - 1972 - Philosophical Review 81 (1):116-119.
  31. added 2017-01-09
    The Ethical Significance of Feeling, Pleasure, and Happiness in Modern Non-Hedonistic Systems.Frances H. Rousmaniere & William Kelley Wright - 1908 - Philosophical Review 17 (5):559.
  32. added 2016-12-08
    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 (...)
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  33. added 2016-08-04
    III—Quantity of Pleasure.John C. Hall - 1967 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 67 (1):35-52.
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  34. added 2016-08-04
    Pleasure-Extract.Thomas Gilby - 1932 - New Blackfriars 13 (151):602-607.
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  35. added 2016-08-04
    Is Pleasure the Summum Bonum?James Seth - 1896 - International Journal of Ethics 6 (4):409-424.
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  36. added 2016-06-13
    The Importance of Pleasure in the Moral for Kant's Ethics.Erica A. Holberg - 2016 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 54 (2):226-246.
    I argue for a new reading of Kant's claim that respect is the moral incentive; this reading accommodates the central insights of the affectivist and intellectualist readings of respect, while avoiding shortcomings of each. I show that within Kant's ethical system, the feeling of respect should be understood as paradigmatic of a kind of pleasure, pleasure in the moral. The motivational power of respect arises from its nature as pleasurable feeling, but the feeling does not directly motivate individual dutiful actions. (...)
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  37. added 2016-03-07
    Precis of Pleasure and the Good Life: Concerning the Nature, Varieties, and Plausiblity of Hedonism.Fred Feldman - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (3):405-408.
  38. added 2016-03-07
    5. The Worth of Pleasure.F. E. Sparshott - 1996 - In Taking Life Seriously: A Study of the Argument of the Nicomachean Ethics. University of Toronto Press. pp. 307-323.
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  39. added 2016-03-07
    Is Pleasure the Summum Bonum?James Seth - 1895 - Ethics 6 (4):409.
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  40. added 2016-01-27
    The Pleasure of Art.Mohan Matthen - 2017 - Australasian Philosophical Review 1 (1):6-28.
    This paper presents a new account of aesthetic pleasure, according to which it is a distinct psychological structure marked by a characteristic self-reinforcing motivation. Pleasure figures in the appreciation of an object in two ways: In the short run, when we are in contact with particular artefacts on particular occasions, aesthetic pleasure motivates engagement and keeps it running smoothly—it may do this despite the fact that the object we engagement is aversive in some ways. Over longer periods, it plays a (...)
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  41. added 2016-01-11
    The Subjective List Theory of Well-Being.Eden Lin - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (1):99-114.
    A subjective list theory of well-being is one that accepts both pluralism (the view that there is more than one basic good) and subjectivism (the view, roughly, that every basic good involves our favourable attitudes). Such theories have been neglected in discussions of welfare. I argue that this is a mistake. I introduce a subjective list theory called disjunctive desire satisfactionism, and I argue that it is superior to two prominent monistic subjectivist views: desire satisfactionism and subjective desire satisfactionism. In (...)
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  42. added 2015-05-18
    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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  43. added 2015-05-18
    Consonance of Welfare and Pleasure.Morgan C. Lloyd - 1929 - Mind 38 (150):207-214.
  44. added 2015-05-18
    The Rationality of Hedonism.E. E. Constance Jones - 1894 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1):29 - 45.
  45. added 2015-05-11
    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.
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  46. added 2015-05-04
    Review of Fred Feldman, Pleasure and the Good Life. [REVIEW]Michael Ridge - 2005 - Mind 114 (454):414-417.
  47. added 2015-04-27
    Faring Well and Getting What You Want.Chris Heathwood - 2014 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), The Ethical Life: Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems. Oxford University Press. pp. 31-42.
    An introductory-level article defending a desire-satisfaction theory of welfare. About 5,000 words; no footnotes, citations, credits, etc.
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  48. added 2015-04-13
    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 (...)
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  49. added 2015-04-05
    Is the Esse of Intrinsic Value Percipi?: Pleasure, Pain and Value: T. L. S. Sprigge.T. L. S. Sprigge - 2000 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 47:119-140.
    In this paper I shall speak sympathetically of a hedonistic theory of intrinsic value which, ignoring any other such theories, I shall simply call the hedonistic theory of value. How far I am finally committed to it will partly appear at the end.
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  50. added 2015-04-04
    Pleasures: Higher and Lower.Robert P. Sylvester - 1975 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 56 (2):129.
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