• Created by: Tinycacti
  • Created on: 02-10-18 12:54


·        Non-religious theory

·        Hedonism : The view that pleasure is the chief ‘good’

Origins of Hedonism

·        ‘hedone’ Greek word for pleasure

·        This is based on the idea that ‘good’ is defined in terms of pleasure/happiness

·        Greek philosophers – Plato and Aristotle both argued that ‘good’ equated with the greatest happiness

·        Epicureans (Based on Epicurus 341-270 BCE) = pleasure as the main aim of life

·        Search for pleasure that has no pain in it (Greek sense)

·        21st century society, with its alcohol and consumerism, is often described as hedonistic


·        Jeremy Bentham, father of utilitarianism (1748- 1832)

·        “nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do”

·        Bentham is assuming that just because people do it, this means we have to, which is naturalistic fallacy

·        Key terms

§  Teleological

§  Consequentialist- someone who decides whether an action is good or bad by its consequences

§  A posteiori- after evidence

§  Empiricist – looking at the world around you to reach conclusions

Principle of utility

·        What is the most useful thing to do in this situation?

·        Weighing up which path will lead to the greatest pleasure

·       The greatest good for the greatest number

·       An act is right if it derives more pleasure than pain

Jeremy Bentham

·       18th century thinker

·       Influenced by enlightenment thinking

·       Used a mechanical approach

·       Opposed the monarchy and colonialism

·       Supported female suffrage and democratic government





Good conversations


Good book

Loud noise


Being cold


Death isn’t always necessarily bad because it might mean the suffering of a loved one ends.


1.    Peoples ideas of pleasure and pain can differ quite greatly because everyone sees things differently

2.    I think generally people’s ideas of pain (at least physical) are the same however activities that bring them pain i.e. working out can differ.

3.    The idea of utility is strong when it comes to situations involving life or death because very few people would want to willingly die however when to things that involve personal opinion it becomes weaker because there can be a lot of different opinions on a subject

4.    I’d sacrifice myself to save both of my parents because they could help each other through their grief, plus the fact that sacrificing one of my parents so that I could live would weigh heavily on my conscience

5.    I think that if the whole world was hedonistic it would be good in theory, but nothing would get done, or at least not very quickly, sometimes pain can’t be avoided e.g.


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