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equivalent happiness

equivalent happiness - misery Similarly it may be better to...

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Equivalent Happiness There is an important distinction to be made between the value of a person’s happiness (the value or disvalue of her/his pleasures or pains) and the value of enhancing or detracting from the person’s happiness (causing her/him to experience pleasure or pain). E.g.: It may well be bad/wrong to engage in action A, which results in an increase in the happiness of person X (who is guilty of murder, say), even though X’s happiness has the same positive value as anyone else’s happiness. It may be good/right to engage in action B, which results in a decrease in X’s happiness (an increase in her/his misery), even though X’s misery has the same negative value as anyone else’s
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Unformatted text preview: misery. Similarly, it may be better to perform action C, enhancing deserving person Y’s happiness more than others, but not because happiness in Y has a greater positive value than it does in others (rather, it will because Y has done something to merit unequal treatment, or because that unequal treatment will indirectly involve an increase of the general happiness. Failure to mark this distinction, I believe, is the main source of reluctance to accept our “default assumption”, that no one’s happiness is any more or any less important than anyone else’s, that everyone’s happiness should get equal consideration....
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