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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L034-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Hedonism is the doctrine that pleasure is the good. It was important in ancient discussions, and many positions were taken, from the view that pleasure is to be avoided to the view that immediate bodily pleasure is to be sought. More elevated views of pleasure were also taken, and have been revived in modern times. There are three varieties of hedonism. Psychological hedonists hold that we can pursue only pleasure; evaluative hedonists that pleasure is what we ought to pursue; reflective hedonists that it is what on reflection gives value to any pursuit. Arguments for psychological hedonism suggest that an agent’s actions are a function of what they think will maximize their pleasure overall. Explaining altruism can lead such theories into truism. Similar arguments are used for reflective hedonism, and the same problem arises. The difficulty for evaluative hedonism lies in deciding how we can establish certain ends as desirable. The claim that pleasure is to be maximized seems immoral to many. Hedonism also faces problems with the measurement of pleasure.

Citing this article:
Gosling, Justin. Hedonism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L034-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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