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J.S. Mill on Calliclean Hedonism and the Value of Pleasure

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 April 2018

Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai


Maximizing Hedonism maintains that the most pleasurable pleasures are the best. Francis Bradley argues that this is either incompatible with Mill’s Qualitative Hedonism, or renders the latter redundant. Some ‘sympathetic’ interpreters respond that Mill was either a Non-Maximizing Hedonist or a Non-Hedonist. However, Bradley’s argument is fallacious, and these ‘sympathetic’ interpretations cannot provide adequate accounts of: Mill’s identification with the Protagorean Socrates; his criticisms of the Gorgian Socrates; or his apparent belief that Callicles is misguided to attempt to show that the pleasures of the intelligent can be more valuable than the pleasures of fools without also being more pleasurable.

L’hédonisme maximisateur maintient que les plaisirs les plus plaisants sont les meilleurs. Francis Bradley soutient que soit cela est incompatible avec l’hédonisme qualitatif de Mill, soit cela rend ce dernier redondant. Certains interprètes bien intentionnés répondent que Mill était soit un hédoniste non-maximisateur, soit un non-hédoniste. L’argument de Bradley est toutefois fallacieux et ces interprétations bien intentionnées ne peuvent rendre compte de manière adéquate de l’identification de Mill avec le Socrate protagorien, de ses critiques du Socrate gorgien, ni de sa conviction apparente que Calliclès a tort de tenter de montrer que les plaisirs de la personne intelligente peuvent être plus précieux que les plaisirs de l’idiot sans pour autant être plus plaisants.

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Copyright © Canadian Philosophical Association 2018 

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