Hedonism Essay, Research Paper
Philosophers normally distinguish between psychological hedonism and ethical hedonism. Psychological hedonism is the position that worlds are psychologically constructed in such a manner that we entirely desire pleasance. Ethical hedonism is the position that our cardinal moral duty is to maximise pleasance or felicity. Ethical hedonism is most associated with the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus *http: //www.utm.edu/research/iep/e/epicur.htm* ( 342-270 BCE. ) who taught that our life & # 8217 ; s end should be to minimise hurting and maximise pleasance. In fact, all of our actions should hold that purpose:
We recognize pleasance as the first good innate in us, and from pleasance we begin every act of pick and turning away, and to pleasure we return once more, utilizing the feeling as the criterion by which we judge every good. [ Letter to Menoeceus ]
In A Letter to Menoeceus & # 8211 ; one of his few surviving fragments & # 8211 ; Epicurus gives advice on how to diminish life & # 8217 ; s strivings, and explains the nature of pleasance. As to diminishing life & # 8217 ; s hurting, Epicurus explains how we can cut down the psychological torment that consequences from fearing the Gods and fearing decease. Refering the nature of pleasance, Epicurus explains that at least some pleasances are rooted in natural and, as a regulation, every hurting is bad and should be avoided, and every pleasance is good and should be preferred. However, there is delicate relation between hurting and pleasance. Every hurting we have is bad, and we should minimise hurting when possible. However, sometimes merely minimising life & # 8217 ; s strivings is sufficient to achieve felicity, and we need to travel a measure further and actively increase pleasance. He argues that we should non prosecute every possible pleasance, such as when they produce more hurting. Besides, argues that the fewer desires we have, the easier it will be to see felicity.
During the in-between ages, Christian philosophers mostly denounced Epicurean hedonism, which they believed was inconsistent with the Christian accent on avoiding wickedness, making God & # 8217 ; s will, and developing the Christian virtuousnesss of religion, hope and charity. Reniassance philosophers such as Erasmus *http: //www.utm.edu/research/iep/e/erasmus.htm* ( 1466-1536 ) revived hedonism and argued that its accent on pleasance was in fact compatible with God & # 8217 ; s wish for worlds to be happy. In his celebrated work Utopia ( 1516 ) , British philosopher Thomas More ( 1478-1535 ) explains that & # 8220 ; the main portion of a individual & # 8217 ; s felicity consists of pleasure. & # 8221 ; Like Erasmus, More defends hedonism on spiritual evidences and argues that, non merely did God plan us to be happy, but that uses our desire for felicity to actuate us to act morally. More significantly More distinguishes between pleasances of the head, and pleasances of the organic structure. He besides argues that we should prosecute pleasances that are more of course grounded, so that we do non go bemused with unreal luxuries. In the eighteenth century, the moral subject of pleasance and felicity was more consistently explored by Francis Hutcheson ( 1694-1747 ) and David Hume *http: //www.utm.edu/research/iep/h/hume.htm* ( 1711-1776 ) , whose theories were precursors to utilitarianism *http: //www.utm.edu/research/iep/u/utilitar.htm* .
& # 8220 ; Consequentialism & # 8221 ; refers to a category of normative moral theories which maintain that an action is morally right if the effects of that action are more favourable than unfavourable. Therefore, right moral behavior is determined entirely by a cost-benefit analysis of an action & # 8217 ; s effects. Consequentialism requires that we foremost tally both the good and bad effects of an action ; we so find whether the entire good effects outweigh the entire bad effects. If the good effects are greater, so the action is morally proper. If the bad effects are greater, so the action is morally improper. Consequentialist theories are besides called teleological theories, from the Grecian word telos, or terminal, since the terminal consequence
of the action is the exclusive finding factor of its morality.
Most versions of consequentialism are more exactly formulated than the general rule above. In peculiar, postulating consequentialist theories specify which effects for affected groups of people are relevant. Three subdivisions of consequentialism emerge:
Ethical Egoism: an action is morally right if the effects of that action are more favourable than unfavourable merely to the agent executing the action.
Ethical Altruism: an action is morally right if the effects of that action are more favourable than unfavourable to everyone except the agent.
Utilitarianism: an action is morally right if the effects of that action are more favourable than unfavourable to everyone.
Advocates of all three positions frequently defended their theories by appealing to certain human inherent aptitudes. Advocates of ethical egoism entreaty a psychological rule of motive called psychological egoism. Psychological egoism provinces that all human actions, with no exclusion, are finally motivated by selfish involvements. This, they argue, is an inalterable fact of human nature. Egotists argue farther that moral duty must run within the confines of our human make-up ( we clearly can non be expected to execute actions beyond our abilities ) . The decision they draw, so, is that ethical egoism is the lone possible standard for ethical judgement since it entirely recognizes our completely selfish motives. But, ethical selflessness makes a similar entreaty to human nature. Philanthropists reject the theory of psychological egoism and argue alternatively that worlds are instinctively benevolent. And natural benevolence, they argue, is the characteristic of our human nature which is the footing of our selfless moral duties. Finally, utilitarianism suggests a mediation between our selfish and selfless ideals. Some utilitarians argue that our public and private lives are so entwined, that when we pursue our selfish involvements, we are at the same clip pursing the involvements of others. J.S. Mill besides argued that, although worlds are selfish, we besides have an natural feeling of integrity which helps spread out our private involvements.
Unfortunately, all of these entreaties to instinctive motivations fail, for there is no manner to through empirical observation set up whether human nature is instinctively selfish, benevolent, or some mixture of the two. All three consequentialist theories can be evaluated from the point of view of our common moral intuitions. Problems are instantly revealed with ethical egoism. Harmonizing to ethical egoism, Acts of the Apostless of prevarication, stealing, and even killing would be morally allowable so long as ( 1 ) the agent benefited, and ( 2 ) he was non caught. But, it is clearly contrary to our common impressions of morality to name such Acts of the Apostless & # 8220 ; moral. & # 8221 ; Ethical selflessness besides clashes with our common moral intuitions since most believe that one & # 8217 ; s ain involvements should number for at least something. Finally, jobs arise with utilitarianism because of its accent on public benefit. Harmonizing to utilitarianism, it would be morally incorrect to blow clip on leisure activities such as watching telecasting, since our clip could be spent in ways which produced a greater societal benefit, such as charity work.
Finally, all of the above versions of consequentialism leave unfastened the possibility that a flagitious action, such as anguish or bondage, could be morally allowable if its benefits outweighed its disbenefits. However, our common moral intuitions tell us that such actions are unfair regardless of the good effects produced. Consequentialism, so, appears to be flawed at its really root since justness can be dispensed with if it produces the appropriate benefits. In position of the above jobs, consequentialist rules have been modified to convey these theories more in line with our common moral intuitions. This is particularly so with utilitarianism.