Do pleasures and pains differ qualitatively?

Journal of Value Inquiry 9 (4):270-81 (1975)
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Traditional hedonists like Epicurus, Bentham and Sidgwick were quantitative hedonists who assumed that pleasures and pains differ, not just from each other, but also from other pleasures and pains only in such quantitatively measurable ways as intensity, duration, and nearness or remoteness in time. They also differ with respect to their sources or causes. John Stuart Mill introduced an interesting and important complication into the modern theory of hedonism by insisting that pleasures also differ qualitatively as well as quantitatively. This article thoroughly and critically examines Mill’s attempt to explain what qualitative differences might mean, and it proposes, defends, and extends a plausible theory of qualitative differences.

Author's Profile

Rem B. Edwards
University of Tennessee, Knoxville


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