The Dilemma for Attitude Theories of Pleasure

In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind Vol. 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2023)
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Abstract

In virtue of what do we enjoy episodes of pleasure? According to the phenomenological theory of pleasure, we enjoy pleasures in virtue of having certain kinds of phenomenal experiences. According to the attitude theory of pleasure, we enjoy pleasures in virtue of having a certain kind of pro-attitude. In this chapter, we show that the attitude theory faces a dilemma. The attitude that is relevant to pleasure—the desire, liking, or favoring—is either necessarily co-instantiated with certain phenomenology, or not. If the attitude theorist denies that the relevant attitudes are phenomenologically enriched in this sense, then their theory has the problematic implication that pleasure can come radically apart from phenomenology. This leads to a *problem of hedonic inversion*. If the attitude theorist instead affirms that the relevant attitudes are phenomenologically enriched, then they undermine their main objection to the phenomenological theory of pleasure. This is the so-called *heterogeneity problem*, according to which pleasures do not feel alike. Either way, the attitudinal theorist faces a difficult challenge in their ongoing debate with phenomenological theorists.

Author Profiles

Daniel Pallies
Lingnan University
Alexander Dietz
University of Southern California (PhD)

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