A new problem for psychological hedonism

Today, we are taking a turn from our usual posts and talking about philosophy. Clearly when it comes to investing, maximizing long term returns outranks short term gains. But what happens when it comes to hedonism? Today’s article talks about hedonism and the difference between immediate pleasure and lifetime pleasure.

Article Introduction (Via Ethics Etc)

Psychological hedonism (PH) is the view that each person is motivated so as to maximize his or her pleasure and minimize his or her pain. Thus, according to psychological hedonism, acts which appear to be altruistic are in fact performed for self interested reasons, such as making the agent feel less guilty, or giving the agent a ‘warm glow’. It is important to note that PH is a theory about motivation, rather than about ethics per se, but is of considerable relevance to ethical discussions

Article Excerpts (Via Ethics Etc)

“PH claims that one’s acts are all ultimately chosen to maximize one’s pleasure. However, there is a tension between immediate pleasure and lifetime pleasure.”

“It thus seems that we can’t be attempting to maximise either immediate pleasure or lifetime pleasure. PH therefore lacks a coherent maximand and must therefore be false, or at least in need of considerable additional explanation.”

The Three Solutions:

1. We each attempt to maximise some time-discounted sum of pleasure for a particular discounting function.

2. We really try to maximise lifetime pleasure, but sometimes choose immediate pleasure out of akrasia.

3. We really try to maximise immediate pleasure, only choosing lifetime pleasure when this gives us an immediate warm glow about being so long-sighted etc.

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About Miguel Barbosa

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15. October 2008 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Psychology & Sociology | Leave a comment

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