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Criticisms of Bentham’s Hedonism. Not all pleasures are qualitatively the same. Not all pleasures are intrinsically good. Mental states, including pleasures and absence of pain, are not the only components of well-being. Problem of Plural Values. Quantitative Hedonism vs. Qualitative Hedonism.

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criticisms of bentham s hedonism
Criticisms of Bentham’s Hedonism
  • Not all pleasures are qualitatively the same.
  • Not all pleasures are intrinsically good.
  • Mental states, including pleasures and absence of pain, are not the only components of well-being.
  • Problem of Plural Values
quantitative hedonism vs qualitative hedonism
Quantitative Hedonism vs. Qualitative Hedonism
  • Bentham holds quantitative hedonism: the view that all pleasures have equal intrinsic goodness as far as their quantity---intensity and duration---is the same, and all pains have equal intrinsic badness as far as their quantity is the same. (A to Q3b)
  • However, his student Mill holds qualitative hedonism: some pleasures can be intrinsically better than others even if their quantity is the same. (A to Q3c) M’wife
qualitative distinction between pleasures
Qualitative Distinction Between Pleasures
  • Ambiguity of ‘qualitative difference’
    • Difference in kind: having different qualitative properties
      • E.g.,Different Colors
    • Difference in value
      • E.g.,Different denominations of bills
qualitative differences in pleasures
Qualitative Differences in Pleasures
  • For Mill, pleasures can be qualitatively different in both senses.
    • Different in kind
    • Different in value between different kinds of pleasures
qualitative differences in kind
Qualitative Differences in Kind
  • Even considered in themselves, as mere sensations, many pleasurable sensations feel different from one another.
    • Pleasure of hearing your child tell you she loves you.
    • Pleasure of eating a hot fudge sundae.
the essence of mill s argument
The Essence of Mill’s Argument
  • Question: Which life is better off: the life of a pig (or a turtle, or whatever you like) with a greater quantity of pleasure, or the life of a person with a lesser quantity of pleasure?
  • Quantitative hedonism entails that the life of the pig is better off.
  • However, people prefer to be a person even if they knew that the life of the pig (or a turtle) has a greater quantity of pleasure.
  • Then, quantitative hedonism has a counter-intuitive consequence. We should reject this view.
  • There are difference in value between the kind of pleasures that animals can experience and the kind of pleasures that only persons can experience. This explains why people prefer the life of a person.
questions for thought
Questions for Thought
  • Is there difference in kind among pains?
  • If so, do kinds of pains differ in value?
  • If so, is a human being who experiences not only higher kinds of pleasures but also higher kinds of pains better off?
    • Read The Story of Good Brahmin
  • Is the assumed better-off status of a human life really due to the differences in value between kinds of pleasures? Isn’t this rather due to the superior faculties and activities of the human being, such as intelligence, planning, imagination etc.?
the problem of application
The Problem of Application
  • It might be impossible to find someone who have experience with both.
    • E.g. Is it possible for a person to have the experiences of the kinds of pleasures that a pig feel, e.g., the kind of pleasures it gets from wallowing in the mud?
    • If this is impossible, a person is not a good judge in comparing the pig’s pleasure with his. Then, his preference to a person’s life over a pig’s life might be unreliable.
    • Note that Mill has responses. First, even if we have not wallowed, we might still get the same kind of pleasures as mental states. Second, the similarity of our and animals’ responses and neuro-anatomy, coupled with evolutionary link, make it probable that we can experience the same kinds of pleasures as non-human animals experience.
criticisms of bentham s quantitative hedonism
Criticisms of Bentham’s Quantitative Hedonism
  • Not all pleasures are qualitatively the same.
  • Not all pleasures are intrinsically good.
  • Pleasure and absence of pain are not the only components of well-being.
  • Problem of Plural Values
not all pleasures are intrinsically good
Not all Pleasures are Intrinsically Good
  • It seems that sadistic pleasures are bad. But Hedonism entails that they are intrinsically good.
    • Reply for Hedonists: Intrinsic vs. Instrumental.
      • Sadistic pleasures are intrinsically good, but they are instrumentally bad in that they tend to produce bad results. So on the whole, sadistic pleasures are bad.