Derek Parfit tells me that, if the amount of evil in the world outweighed any actual or forthcoming good, as Hardy and Schopenhauer held, then he would prefer it to be the case that nothing matters. I have to admit that I don’t understand this preference.
Guy Kahane, ‘If Nothing Matters’, Noûs, forthcoming
When I consider the parts of the past of which I have some knowledge, I am inclined to believe that, in Utilitarian hedonistic terms, the past has been worth it, since the sum of happiness has been greater than the sum of suffering.
Derek Parfit, On What Matters, vol. 2, Oxford, 2011, p. 612
Among all the several species of psychological entities, the names of which are to be found either in the Table of the Springs of Action, or in the Explanations above subjoined to it, the two which are as it were the roots, the main pillars or foundations of all the rest, the matter of which all the rest are composed—or the receptacles of that matter, which soever may be the physical image, employed to give aid, if not existence to conception, will be, it is believed, if they have not been already, seem to be PLEASURES and PAINS. Of these, the existence is matter of universal and constant experience. Without any of the rest, these are susceptible of,—and as often as they come unlooked for, do actually come into, existence: without these, no one of all those others ever had, or ever could have had, existence.
Jeremy Bentham, Deontology Together with A Table of the Springs of Action and Article on Utilitarianism, Oxford, 1983, p. 98