The Unity and Commensurability of Pleasures and Pains
- Ole Martin Moen
- … show all 1 hide
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
In this paper I seek to answer two interrelated questions about pleasures and pains: (i) The question of unity: Do all pleasures share a single quality that accounts for why these, and only these, are pleasures, and do all pains share a single quality that accounts for why these, and only these, are pains? (ii) The question of commensurability: Are all pleasures and pains rankable on a single, quantitative hedonic scale? I argue that our intuitions draw us in opposing directions: On the one hand, pleasures and pains seem unified and commensurable; on the other hand, they do not. I further argue that neither intuition can be abandoned, and examine three different paths to reconciliation. The first two are response theory and split experience theory. Both of these, I argue, are unsuccessful. A third path, however—which I label “dimensionalism” —succeeds. Dimensionalism is the theory that pleasure and pain have the ontological status as opposite sides of a hedonic dimension along which experiences vary. This view has earlier been suggested by C. D. Broad, Karl Duncker, Shelly Kagan, and John Searle, but it has not been worked out in detail. In this paper I work out the dimensionalist view in some detail, defend it, and explain how it solves the problem of the unity and commensurability of pleasures and pains.
- Alston, W Pleasure. In: Edwards, P eds. (1967) The encyclopedia of philosophy. Macmillan Publishing Co. & The Free Press, New York, pp. 341-347
- Aydede, M (2000) An analysis of pleasure Vis-à-vis pain. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61: pp. 537-570 CrossRef
- Bentham, J. (1781/1996). Principles of morals and legislation. In J. H. Burns, H. L. A. Hart (Eds.). Oxford: Cleardon Press.
- Brandt, R (1979) A theory of the good and the right. Cleardon, Oxford
- Broad, CD (1930) Five types of ethical theory. Routledge, London
- Crisp, R (2006) Reasons and the good. Oxford University Press, New York CrossRef
- Duncker, K (1941) On pleasure, emotion, and striving. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 1: pp. 398-99 CrossRef
- Edwards, RB (1979) Pleasures and pains: A theory of qualitative hedonism. Cornell University Press, Ithaca
- Feldman, F (2006) Pleasure and the good life. Oxford University Press, New York
- Hall, RJ (1989) Are pains necessarily unpleasant?. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 49: pp. 643-659 CrossRef
- Heathwood, C (2007) The reduction of sensory pleasure to desire. Philosophical Studies 133: pp. 23-44 CrossRef
- Kagan, S (1992) The limits of well-being. Social Philosophy and Policy 9: pp. 169-189 CrossRef
- Katz, L. (2009). Pleasure. The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Fall 2009 Edition). Edward N. Zalta (Ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2009/entries/pleasure/>.
- Korsgaard, C (1996) The sources of normativity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge CrossRef
- Locke, J. (1690/1975). An essay concerning human understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Mason, E (2007) The nature of pleasure: a critique of Feldman. Utilitas 19: pp. 379-87 CrossRef
- Melzack, R (2005) The McGill pain questionnaire: from description to measurement. Anesthesiology 103: pp. 199-202 CrossRef
- Mill, J (1869) Analysis of the human mind. Longmans Green Reader and Dyer, London
- Moore, A. (2008). Hedonism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition). Edward N. Zalta (Ed.). URL =<http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/hedonism/>.
- Parfit, D (1984) Reasons and persons. Oxford University Press, Oxford
- Plato (1997). Philebus. Translated by Dorothea Frede. In Plato: Complete works. J. Cooper (Ed.). Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.
- Plochmann, G (1950) Some neglected considerations on pleasure and pain. Ethics 61: pp. 51-55 CrossRef
- Rachels, S (2000) Is unpleasantness intrinsic to unpleasant experiences?. Philosophical Studies 99: pp. 187-210 CrossRef
- Rachels, S (2004) Six theses about pleasure. Philosophical Perspectives 18: pp. 247-67 CrossRef
- Searle, J (1992) The rediscovery of the mind. MIT Press, Cambridge
- Sidgwick, H. (1907/1981). The methods of ethics, 7th ed. Indianapolis (Ind): Hackett Publishing.
- Smuts, A (2010) The feels good theory of pleasure. Philosophical Studies 155: pp. 241-265 CrossRef
- Sprigge, TLS (1988) The rational foundations of ethics. Routledge, London
- Sumner, LW (1999) Welfare, happiness, and ethics. Oxford University Press, Oxford CrossRef
- The Unity and Commensurability of Pleasures and Pains
Volume 41, Issue 2 , pp 527-543
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Heterogeneity objection
- Ole Martin Moen (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Philosophy, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway