Philosophy

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A Defence of Mill's Qualitative Hedonism

Rex Martina1

a1 University of Kansas

In his well known proposition that pleasures differ qualitatively, Mill seems to be arguing three principal points. (1) ‘Mental’ pleasures as a kind are intrinsically ‘more desirable and more valuable’ than ‘bodily pleasures’ (p. 12). (2) This estimation of pleasure, Mill says, is such as to rule out the claim that it ‘should be supposed to depend on quantity alone.’ Indeed, he continued, the ‘superiority in quality’ might be ‘so far outweighing quantity as to render it, in comparison, of small account’ (p. 12). (3) The ‘test of quality and the rule for measuring it against quantity,’ Mill says, is ‘the preference’ of experienced judges (p. 16). ‘[T]he judgment of those who are qualified by knowledge of both, or, if they differ, that of the majority among them, must be admitted as final’ (p. 15).