Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 119–133 | Cite as

How to Unify Theories of Sensory Pleasure: An Adverbialist Proposal

  • Murat Aydede


A lot of qualitatively very different sensations can be pleasant or unpleasant. The Felt-Quality Views that conceive of sensory affect as having an introspectively available common phenomenology or qualitative character face the “heterogeneity problem” of specifying what that qualitative common phenomenology is. In contrast, according to the Attitudinal Views, what is common to all pleasant or unpleasant sensations is that they are all “wanted” or “unwanted” in a certain sort of way. The commonality is explained not on the basis of phenomenology but by a common mental, usually some sort of conative, attitude toward the sensation. Here I criticize both views and offer an alternative framework that combines what is right in both while avoiding their unintuitive commitments. The result is the reductive (psychofunctionalist) adverbial sensory modification view of pleasure and displeasure.


Sensory Quality Sensory Experience Phenomenal Quality Pleasant Sensation Hedonic Tone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Armstrong, D.M. 1962. Bodily sensations. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  2. Alston, W. 1968. Pleasure. In The encyclopedia of philosophy, ed. P. Edwards. New York: Collier-Macmillan.Google Scholar
  3. Aydede, M. 2000. An analysis of pleasure vis-à-vis pain. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61(3): 537–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aydede, M, and M. Fulkerson. 2013. “Affective Qualities”, presentation at the Pacific APA meeting, 2013.Google Scholar
  5. Berridge, K. 2004. Motivation concepts in behavioral neuroscience. Physiology & Behavior 81(2): 179–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Block, N. 1980. “Troubles with functionalism.” In Readings in philosophy of psychology, 1, 268–305.Google Scholar
  7. Bramble, B. 2011. The distinctive feeling theory of pleasure. Philosophical Studies 162(2): 201–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brandt, R. 1979. A theory of the good and the right. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  9. Brink, D. 1989. Moral realism and the foundations of ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Broad, C.D. 1930. Five types of ethical theory. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  11. Carson, T.L. 2000. Value and the good life. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  12. Clark, A. 2005. Painfulness is not a quale. In Pain, ed. M. Aydede. Cambridge: MIT.Google Scholar
  13. Crisp, R. 2006. Reasons and the good. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dancy, J. 2000. Practical reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Davis, W.A. 1981. Pleasure and happiness. Philosophical Studies 39(3): 305–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davis, W.A. 1982. A causal theory of enjoyment. Mind 91(362): 240–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Duncker, K. 1941. On pleasure, emotion, and striving. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 1(4): 391–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Feldman, F. 1992. “Two Questions about Pleasure”. In Philosophical Analysis, edited by D. F. Austin, pp. 59–81.Google Scholar
  19. Feldman, F. 1997. On the intrinsic value of pleasures. Ethics 107: 448–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Feldman, F. 2001. Hedonism. In The encyclopedia of ethics, ed. L.C. Becker and C.B. Becker, 662–669. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Feldman, F. 2004. Pleasure and the good life. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goldstein, I. 1980. Why people prefer pleasure to pain. Philosophy 55(213): 349–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gosling, J.C.B. 1969. Pleasure and desire: The case for hedonism reviewed. Oxford: Clarendon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hall, R. 1989. Are pains necessarily unpleasant? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 49(4): 643–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heathwood, C. 2007. The reduction of sensory pleasure to desire. Philosophical Studies 133: 23–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Helm, B. 2002. Felt evaluations: A theory of pleasure and pain. American Philosophical Quarterly 39(1): 13–30.Google Scholar
  27. Kahane, G. 2009. Pain, dislike and experience. Utilitas 21(03): 327–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kagan, S. 1992. The limits of well-being. Social Philosophy and Policy 9: 169–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Labukt, I. 2012. Hedonic tone and the heterogeneity of pleasure. Utilitas 24(02): 172–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Moore, G. E. 1903/1993. Principia Ethica. In T. Baldwin (Ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Parfit, D. 2001. Rationality and reasons. In Exploring practical philosophy: From action to values, ed. D. Egonsson, B. Petersson, J. Josefsson, and T. Rönnow-Rasmussen. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  32. Parfit, D. 2011. On What Matters, Vol. 1, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Pitcher, G. 1970. Pain perception. Philosophical Review 79(3): 368–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rachels, S. 2000. Is unpleasantness intrinsic to unpleasant experiences? Philosophical Studies 99: 187–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rolls, E.T. 2005. Emotion explained. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ryle, G. 1949. The concept of mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  37. Ryle, G. 1954. Pleasure. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supp. 28: 135–146.Google Scholar
  38. Scanlon, T. 1998. What we owe to each other. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Sidgwick, H. 1907/1981. The Methods of Ethics. 7th edn. Macmillan.Google Scholar
  40. Sobel, D. 2002. Varieties of hedonism. Journal of Social Philosophy 33(2): 240–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sobel, D. 2005. Pain for objectivists: The case of matters of mere taste. Ethical theory and moral practice 8(4): 437–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sobel, D. 2011. “Parfit’s Case against Subjectivism”. In Oxford Studies in Metaethics, volume 6, edited by Shafer-Landau, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Sprigge, T.L.S. 2000. Is the esse of intrinsic value percipi?: Pleasure, pain and value. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supp 47: 119–140.Google Scholar
  44. Smith, M. 1994. The moral problem. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Smuts, A. 2011. The feels good theory of pleasure. Philosophical Studies 155(2): 241–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sumner, L.W. 1996. Welfare, happiness, and ethics. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  47. Tye, M. 1995. Ten problems of consciousness: A representational theory of the phenomenal mind. Cambridge: MIT.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations