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Interpreting Mill's Qualitative Hedonism

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Against Schmidt-Petri's claim, I argue that John Stuart Mill is committed to the view that one pleasure is higher in quality than another if and only if at least a majority of those people who are competently acquainted with both always prefer the one no matter how much of the other is offered. I support my reading with solid textual evidence; none such is provided by Schmidt-Petri in support of his contrary interpretation that qualitative superiority exists whenever the experienced prefer less of one pleasure to more of another. The decisive objection to this is its incompatibility with the hedonistic requirement that more pleasure ought to be preferred to less, a requirement so fundamental that it would be uncharitable to suppose that Mill lost sight of it in his doctrine of higher pleasures.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Tulane University

Publication date: 2003-07-01

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