ABSTRACT: In this paper I seek to answer two interrelated questions about pleasures and pains: (i) The question of unity: Do all pleasures share a single quality that accounts for why these, and only these, are pleasures, and do all pains share a single quality that accounts for why these, and only these, are pains? (ii) The question of commensurability: Are all pleasures and pains rankable on a single, quantitative hedonic scale? I argue that our intuitions draw us in opposing directions: On the one hand, pleasures and pains seem unified and commensurable; on the other hand, they do not. I further argue that neither intuition can be abandoned, and examine three different paths to reconciliation. The first two are response theory and split experience theory. Both of these, I argue, are unsuccessful. A third path, however—which I label “dimensionalism” —succeeds. Dimensionalism is the theory that pleasure and pain have the ontological status as opposite sides of a hedonic dimension along which experiences vary. This view has earlier been suggested by C. D. Broad, Karl Duncker, Shelly Kagan, and John Searle, but it has not been worked out in detail. In this paper I work out the dimensionalist view in some detail, defend it, and explain how it solves the problem of the unity and commensurability of pleasures and pains.
Introduction: Two Opposing Intuitions
Think of these three pleasurable experiences: The taste of ice cream, the feeling of being loved, and the excitement of reading a detective story. Do these experiences share a single quality that accounts for why they are all pleasures? Similarly, think of these three painful experiences: The searing burn after having touched a hot stove, the sting of a pinprick, and the feel of a pressing headache. Do these experiences share a single quality that accounts for why they are all pains? This is the problem of pleasure and pain unity. Moreover: Are all pleasures and all pains rankable on a single, quantitative hedonic scale? This is the problem of pleasure and pain commensurability. These two problems—which, as we shall see, are closely interrelated—are jointly the topic of this paper.
.Av Ole Martin Moen
Hvilke ting i livet er verdt å ha, ikke bare som midler henimot andre mål, men som mål i seg selv? Hedonisme er teorien om at bare én ting er verdt å ha som et mål i seg selv – nytelse (gr. hēdonē) – og bare én ting verdt å unngå som et mål i seg selv – smerte. Hedonister trenger ikke å benekte at slike ting som kunnskap, vennskap, ære, helse og rettferdighet er genuint verdifulle. Det eneste hedonister må benekte, er at disse er verdifulle for sin egen del. Ifølge hedonister har disse, og alt annet i livet, verdi bare som midler henimot målet å fremme nytelse og unngå smerte.
I én forstand er hedonismen en radikal posisjon. Kan virkelig alt av verdi være reduserbart til nytelse og smerte? Hadde en verden uten nytelse og smerte vært en verden helt uten verdier? I en annen forstand er hedonismen en plausibel posisjon, for det er noe unektelig godt og bra over nytelse, og noe ondt og dårlig over smerte – og innenfor rammene av et sekulært verdensbilde er det ikke åpenbart hva annet som kan gi opphav til godt og ondt.
Hedonismen er en svært utbredt og svært kontroversiell etisk teori i idéhistorien: Platon og Aristoteles diskuterer hedonisme inngående, Epikur forsvarte hedonisme og de klassiske utilitaristene var hedonister. Målet med denne artikkelen er å trekke de lange linjene i hedonismens historie. …
I have an op-ed on Ayn Rand in Forbes. So far, it has been shared 1,400 times on Facebook!
According to Mahatma Gandhi, revolutionaries are first ignored, then laughed at, then attacked—and then they win. Reading George Monbiot’s piece on Ayn Rand, “How Ayn Rand became the new right’s version of Marx” (The Guardian), has made me think that Gandhi could have included an intermediary step between laughter and attack: a step where the adversaries are no longer able to laugh, yet still lack the arguments necessary to launch an attack, thus do what they can to smear.
Monbiot makes his intention clear: He claims that Ayn Rand thought that empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive, that the poor deserve to die, and that those who seek to help them should be gassed. These are lies, and Monbiot knows it.
In spite of the lies, I do have a shred of sympathy for Monbiot – for what else could he say? It becomes clearer every day that Ayn Rand’s prophecy in Atlas Shrugged was spot on. Although the railroad industry in Rand’s novel has been replaced by a financial market, the same plot is played out: a mixed economy collapses and capitalism gets the blame.
In the U.S. we have seen the central bank – which Rand sought to abolish – encourage excessive loan taking by keeping interest rates artificially low. We have seen the U.S. government force banks to give loans to people who are unable to pay them back. We have seen the government give bailouts to banks – a tragic example of a mixed economy’s mixing of political and economic interests. We have also seen the economy on both sides of the Atlantic being driven to the breaking point by governments taking on great debts to finance popular welfare programs. The mixed economy is crumbling. The left seeks to give capitalism the blame.
In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand uncovers the hoax – and for this reason, Monbiot has a point when he claims that Ayn Rand is capitalism’s Karl Marx. Rand is an influential philosopher and iconoclast, and her alternative to Marx’ theory of exploitation is a theory that the wealth we all benefit from – from computers and airplanes to medicines and books – is fundamentally the result of entrepreneurs’ ability to innovate. Entrepreneurs and capitalists are heroes, not villains – and in Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand explains why. More and more people are getting Rand’s point, and Randians are now everywhere, ranging from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to the movements surrounding Ron Paul and Gary Johnson.
Ayn Rand is dangerous to the left, and therefore she’s smeared – something of which she herself was acutely aware. When The Ayn Rand Lexicon was made, she told the editor that such a lexicon would be very convenient: “People will be able to look up BREAKFAST and see that I did not advocate eating babies for breakfast.”
Pictures from Wikimedia Commons: Monbiot, Rand.
Thomas M. Johanson og jeg har skrevet en kronikk om Open Access i Universitas:
Gunnar jobber med å bake kaker – fine, smakfulle kaker. Men isteden for å selge kakene, gir Gunnar dem fra seg gratis. Gunnar gir dem til konditoriene, og konditoriene selger dem med høy profitt. Gunnar og vennene hans er blant kjøperne. Noen ganger, når de skal ta en pause i bakingen, jobber Gunnar og vennene gratis med å avgjøre hvilke kaker som er bra nok til å bli solgt i de beste konditoriene.
Dette lyder sprøtt. Det er likevel ikke sprøere enn hvordan vitenskapelig publisering fungerer. Universiteter produserer forskning og gir forskningen vederlagsfritt til vitenskapelige tidsskrifter. Forskere fagfellevurderer for tidsskriftene, også dette uten vederlag. Deretter betaler universitetene for å få tilgang til forskningen som de selv har finansiert. …