Category Archives: Fred Feldman

Fred Feldman

Perhaps the greatest source of confusion about hedonism is this: Some philosophers think that pleasure is a special sort of sensation. Moore and many others have assumed that to get pleasure is to feel a certain something—a special, indefinable, phenomenologically uniform sensation—the feeling of “pleasure itself.” These philosophers quite naturally assume that hedonism is the view that this feeling is the fundamental bearer of positive intrinsic value.

The remarkable fact is that there simply is no such feeling. Feelings of the most disparate sorts may correctly be called “pleasures.” Sidgwick, Broad, Ryle, Brandt, and many others have made this clear. The implication is obvious: If we take hedonism to be the view that this uniform sensation is the sole bearer of positive intrinsic value, then we are driven to the conclusion that nothing intrinsically good has ever happened!

Fred Feldman, Utilitarianism, Hedonism, and Desert: Essays in Moral Philosophy, Cambridge, 1997, p. 8

Fred Feldman

In common parlance, ‘hedonism’ suggests something a bit vulgar and risqué. We may think of someone like the former publisher of a slightly scandalous girlie magazine. He apparently enjoyed hanging out with bevies of voluptuous young women, drinking and dining perhaps to excess, travelling to tropical resorts where the young women would reveal extensive amounts of tanned flesh, and revelling till dawn. In an earlier era the motto was ‘wine, women, and song’. Nowadays, we are required to substitute the somewhat more P.C. ‘sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll’. No matter what the motto, the vision is misguided. It reveals a misconception of the views of most serious hedonists[.]

Fred Feldman, Pleasure and the Good Life: Concerning the Nature, Varieties, and Plausibility of Hedonism, Oxford, 2004, p. 21