Crisp PH reading week 3

S life is f a r l es s e xciting thoug h t hi s is r

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Unformatted text preview: r' s life is f a r l es s e xciting . Thoug h t hi s is r athe r a s ophisticate d o yster, its life w il l consis t o nl y o f m il d s ensua l p leasure , rathe r like t ha t experience d b y h uman s w he n f loatin g v er y d run k in a war m b ath . W he n y o u r eques t t h e life o f H aydn , t h e ange l s ighs , 'I'l l n eve r g e t rid o f t hi s o yste r l ife . It's b ee n hangin g a roun d f o r a ges . L ook , I'll offer y o u a s pecia l deal . H ayd n w il l d i e a t t h e a g e of s eventy-seven . B u t I'll m ak e t h e o yste r life a s l on g a s y o u l ike. ' If h edonis m is c orrect , w on' t t her e c om e a point at w hic h th e o yster' s life is s ufficientl y l on g t ha t its l eve l o f e njoymen t is g reate r t ha n t ha t of H aydn's ? Mill f amousl y s ough t t o d ea l w it h t hi s o bjectio n in c hapte r tw o o f h i s Utilitarianism ( 1863 ) by d istinguishin g b etwee n t h e quality a n d t h e quantity o f p leasure . Mill w a s h er e b uildin g o n th e w or k of his h edonisti c p redecessors , e speciall y B entham , wh o h a d s uggeste d t hat t h e v alu e o f a n y p leasur e d epend s o n onl y t w o t hings : its intensity, a n d its d uration . Mill w ante d t o a d d a t hir d f actor, s o t ha t e ve n if t h e o yster' s p leasure s w er e m or e intens e o r of l onge r d uratio n t ha n H aydn's , H aydn' s c oul d be sai d t o b e s uperio r in quality. W ha t d i d Mill m ea n b y q uality ? H e is n o t all t ha t f orthcoming , b u t o n e e xampl e a ppear s t o b e th e p ropert y o f ' nobility' . Almos t a s s oo n a s Mill o ffere d his s uggestion , it c am e u nde r attack . A n d t h e m os t c ommo n a ttac k c am e in t h e f or m o f a dilemm a f o r M ill . Take t h e life o f H aydn , a n d i magin e t ha t Mill believe s it s uperio r t o t ha t o f t h e o yste r b ecaus e o f its quality. —i g* *" c 3 3 -< o § • £j> NO ^ (j) ^ c -v_^ ^ O •2: jq 0) QQ. *c U If it is superior merely because it is more pleasant, the objection goes, then Mill has made no advance on Bentham; but if it is superior for some other reason (such as its nobility), then he has given up hedonism. This objection, however, fails to take Mill's point. Quality is an extra dimension to pleasantness, and it is open to Mill to argue that the pleasantness, and hence the value, of Haydn's life are partly a result of the quality of its experiences. Nevertheless, this is an odd position. If nobility can add value through increasing pleasantness, why can't it add value on its own? And, anyway, aren't there experiences which are noble but not pleasant? So there are indeed problems with Mill's account. But I believe it can be adapted and made quite plausible. First of all we need to get rid of the idea of intensity, which really only makes sense if we think of pleasure as a kind of sensation. Second, we should accept that duration is merely another quality of any pleasure. Finally, we must note that...
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This note was uploaded on 09/14/2013 for the course ECON 101 taught by Professor Drwang during the Fall '11 term at National Taiwan University.

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