Essay B: Hedonism’s Strengths and Weaknesses

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Suggested length: approximately 5-7 typed double spaced pages, with 1-inch margins and a 12 point font. (5 typed double spaced pages in Times New Roman 12 is about 1800 words.) The readings from Mill and Nozick (for Essay B) are from the following text: Ethical Theory: An Anthology, Second Edition. Edited by Russ Shafer-Landau. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2013. Refer to text Fundamentals of Ethics by Russ Shafer-Landau.

(a) a complete explanation of hedonism – what kind of a theory it is, and its main claim. This requires distinguishing – with examples – between intrinsic and instrumental value, and between physical and attitudinal pleasure.

(b) an explanation, with your own examples, of three of the first five of the“most important reasons that hedonism has won so many fans” (pp. 26-29):

(1) There Are Many Models of a Good Life; (2) Personal Authority and Well-Being; (3) Misery Clearly Hampers a Good Life; Happiness Clearly Improves It; (4) The Limits of Explanation; (5) Rules of the Good Life – and Their Exceptions. Please note that these are simply titles of different sections in the chapter. You do not need to include them in your discussion. What is essential is that you clearly explain the philosophical point in the section. (c) a complete explanation of any two of the following three objections to hedonism: (a) Nozick’s experience machine (in the reading selection from Nozick and in FOE, pp. 36-37, in the section on “False Happiness”) (b) The Importance of Autonomy (FOE, pp. 37-39) (c) Life’s Trajectory (FOE, pp. 40-41) (Again, flesh out the objections with your own examples). Objections to philosophical theories are reasons for thinking the theory is false. How exactly do the objections you’ve chosen show this about hedonism? (d) and last, your own assessment of hedonism: in your view, which is the stronger case: the reasons in favor of hedonism (in Chapter 1 of FOE) or the reasons against hedonism (in Chapter 2 of FOE), and why? You will be graded on: • The degree to which your paper reflects an accurate grasp of the theory of hedonism: what it is, and the reasons for and against it. • Your ability to critically evaluate the theory and explain why you agree or disagree it • Your ability to do (1) and (2) above in clear prose that is intelligible to the naïve reader (someone who hasn’t taken this class). In other words, all of the elements of good writing matter and will be graded.

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