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Hedonic Tone and the Heterogeneity of Pleasure




Some philosophers have claimed that pleasures and pains are characterized by their particular ‘feel’ or ‘hedonic tone’. Most contemporary writers reject this view: they hold that hedonic states have nothing in common except being liked or disliked (alternatively: pursued or avoided) for their own sake. In this article, I argue that the hedonic tone view has been dismissed too quickly: there is no clear introspective or scientific evidence that pleasures do not share a phenomenal quality. I also argue that analysing hedonic states in terms of liking or wanting is implausible. If it is correct that pleasures and pains are not united by any particular hedonic tone, we should instead simply conclude that there are several different hedonic tones. This pluralistic understanding of the hedonic tone view has generally been overlooked in the literature, but appears to be fairly plausible as a philosophical account of pleasure and pain.

Suggested Citation

  • Labukt, Ivar, 2012. "Hedonic Tone and the Heterogeneity of Pleasure," Utilitas, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(02), pages 172-199, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:utilit:v:24:y:2012:i:02:p:172-199_00

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