For helpful discussion and comments on earlier drafts of this paper, I wish to thank Bengt Brülde, Irwin Goldstein, Douglas Husak, Barry Loewer, Colin McGinn, Brain McLaughlin, Alex Michalos, Jonathan Schaffer, George Sher, T. L. S. Sprigge, Stephen Stich, L. W. Summer, Barry Ward, and Robert Woolfolk, as well as audiences at the April 2000 Pacific Division conference of the American Philosophical Association and the May 1999 conference of the New Jersey Regional Philosophy Association, where I presented excerpts from this paper.
Happiness and Pleasure1
Version of Record online: 29 MAY 2007
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Volume 62, Issue 3, pages 501–528, May 2001
How to Cite
HAYBRON, D. M. (2001), Happiness and Pleasure. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 62: 501–528. doi: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2001.tb00072.x
- Issue online: 29 MAY 2007
- Version of Record online: 29 MAY 2007
This paper argues against hedonistic theories of happiness. First, hedonism is too inclusive: many pleasures cannot plausibly be construed as constitutive of happiness. Second, any credible theory must count either attitudes of life satisfaction, affective states such as mood, or both as constituents of happiness; yet neither sort of state reduces to pleasure. Hedonism errs in its attempt to reduce happiness, which is at least partly dispositional, to purely episodic experiential states. the dispositionality of happiness also undermines weakened nonreductive forms of hedonism, as some happiness-constitutive states are not pleasures in any sense. Moreover, these states can apparently fail to exhibit the usual hedonic properties; sadness, for instance, can sometimes be pleasant. Finally, the nonhedonistic accounts are adequate if not superior on grounds of practical and theoretical utility, quite apart from their superior conformity to the folk notion of happiness.
“And does his philosophy make you happy?”
“I have never searched for happiness. Who wants happiness?
I have searched for pleasure.”
Oscar Wilde, the Picture of Dorian Gray (p. 209)