his seminal paper, “Death”, Nagel writes the following:
Someone who holds that all goods and
evils must be temporally assignable states of the person may of course try to
bring more complicated cases into line by pointing to the pleasure or pain that
the more complicated goods and evils cause. Loss, betrayal, and deception, and ridicule are on this view bad because
people suffer when they learn of them. But it should be asked how our ideas of human value would have to be
constituted to accommodate these cases directly instead. One advantage of such an account might be
that it would enable us to explain why the discovery of these
misfortunes causes suffering—in a way that makes it reasonable. For the natural view is that the discovery of
betrayal makes us unhappy because it is bad to be betrayed—not that betrayal is
bad because its discovery makes us unhappy.
been thinking that there may be a good argument against hedonism to be found in
this quotation, one which I will elaborate below the fold.
Love this idea? Nominate it for the Annual PEA Soup Awards!