Hedonism, Preferentialism, and Value Bearers

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Abstract

Hedonism and preferentialism are two popular theories about what has final value, i.e. is valuable for its own sake. The latter theory is customarily portrayed as the wider of these, in that it ascribes value to much more than pleasures, viz., to any object of a final preference. By examining the metaphysical underpinnings of these views, it is argued that a fundamental issue between these theories concerns the question “what are the fundamental bearers of final value?” While hedonism is here defined as the view that ascribes final value only to concrete sensations of pleasure, preferentialism is initially understood as claiming that final value accrues to the objects of preferences. Given that such objects are often assumed to be abstract entities, hedonists might launch a possible argument against preferentialism, viz., that since value on a preferentialist reading only accrues to abstract objects (states of affairs), preferentialists are debarred from valuing what hedonists value (concrete sensations). Various replies with which a preferentialist might counter this objection are examined. However, it is concluded that these suggestions are not convincing.

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  • Philosophy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-472
JournalJournal of Value Inquiry
Volume36
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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