The Pleasures of Tranquillity

Homo Oeconomicus (2022)
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Abstract

Epicurus posited that the best life involves the greatest pleasures. He also argued that it involves attaining tranquillity. Many commentators have expressed scepticism that these two claims are compatible. For, they argue, Epicurus’ tranquil life is so austere that it is hard to see how it could be maximally pleasurable. Here, I offer an Epicurean account of the pleasures of tranquillity. I also consider different ways of valuing lives from a hedonistic point of view. Benthamite hedonists value lives by the sum of pleasures minus the sum of pains, weighted by intensity and duration. Meanwhile, Binmore proposes that Epicurus valued lives by their worst episode. In contrast, I offer an Epicurean argument for why the best life is one in which a person attains tranquillity and tastes its pleasures until death.

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Alex Voorhoeve
London School of Economics

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