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What Is This Thing Called Happiness?$
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Fred Feldman

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571178

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571178.001.0001

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Sensory Hedonism about Happiness

Sensory Hedonism about Happiness

Chapter:
(p.23) CHAPTER 2 Sensory Hedonism about Happiness
Source:
What Is This Thing Called Happiness?
Author(s):

Fred Feldman (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571178.003.0002

Bentham, Mill, and Sidgwick say things that strongly suggest sensory hedonism about happiness. This is the view that a person's level of happiness is equal to the total amount of sensory pleasure he is feeling at that moment, minus the total amount of sensory pain he is feeling at that moment. Daniel Haybron presented a series of arguments against sensory hedonism about happiness. These arguments are explained and criticized. More successful arguments against sensory hedonism are then presented. One of these is based on the case of the New Mother. At the moment when she gives birth the New Mother (a) is experiencing very severe sensory pain (and no sensory pleasure) but at the same time (b) is profoundly happy. Thus, a person's level of happiness at a time cannot be identified with the net amount of sensory pleasure she is feeling at that time.

Keywords:   hedonism, pleasure, hedon, dolor, hedono–doloric balance, Bentham, Mill, Sidgwick, Haybron, Wendell, Dolores, the new mother

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