Precis of pleasure and the good life: concerning the nature, varieties, and plausiblity of hedonism
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My central aim in Pleasure and the Good Life (hereafter “P&GL”) was to show that when carefully formulated and charitably interpreted, certain forms of hedonism yield plausible evaluations of the prudential value of lives. The forms of hedonism in question are all versions of attitudinal hedonism. These theories are based on the idea that the ultimate sources of prudential value in a person’s life are episodes in which the person takes intrinsic attitudinal pleasure in some state of affairs. I use the term ‘sensory hedonism’ to indicate views according to which pleasurable sensations or feelings make for a good life. None of the forms of hedonism that I tried to defend in P&GL is a form of sensory hedonism.
I started by formulating a clear version of sensory hedonism. On this theory—which I called ‘Default Hedonism’—the ultimate bearers of prudential value are episodes in which a person feels some sensory pleasure or pain. I said that the value for the one who experiences it of such an...