Article

Reinterpreting the Form of Qualitative Hedonism Advanced by J.S. Mill

Citation

Saunders B (2011) Reinterpreting the Form of Qualitative Hedonism Advanced by J.S. Mill. Journal of Value Inquiry, 45 (2), p. 187–201. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10790-011-9274-0

Abstract
One of Mill's most radical departures from Bentham is his qualitative hedonism. The distinction between 'higher' and 'lower' pleasures has aroused considerable controversy. This piece takes issue with a number of recent interpreters, most particularly Jonathan Riley and Christoph Schmidt-Petri, arguing that quality of pleasure cannot be reduced to quantity, in either finite or infinite amounts, and that there is no reason to assume that higher pleasures are always lexically preferred to lower pleasures. On the view developed, only pleasure is valuable but -- as with other things -- it is valued both for its quantity and its quality and these may be traded off against each other. It is argued that this makes better sense of a number of Mill's remarks than the rival interpretations considered.

Keywords
Ethics; Hedonism; Pleasure; Quality

Journal
Journal of Value Inquiry: Volume 45, Issue 2

StatusPublished
Publication date31/12/2011
PublisherSpringer
ISSN0022-5363