Is Qualitative Hedonism Incoherent?

Jonathan Rileya1

a1 Tulane University, jonriley@mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu


Geoffrey Scarre has recently argued that the version of qualitative hedonism which I attribute to Mill is unsatisfactory for various reasons. In his view, even if it is formally compatible with value monism, ‘the Mill/Riley line’ involves non-hedonistic elements and offers an implausible account of the relationship between ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ pleasures. In this paper, I show that his objections, which are similar in spirit to those pressed earlier by Bradley, Moore and others against Mill, are unfounded where not confused. The Mill/Riley line does not rely on non-hedonistic standards and has sufficient flexibility to account for many different kinds of pleasures and pleasing activities. It remains a coherent version of qualitative hedonism, worthy of further consideration and study.