Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Mill on Utilitarianism

By Roger Crisp | Go to book overview
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Chapter 3

Experience, desire and the ideal

Veridical and non-veridical experience

In the previous chapter, I outlined Mill’s hedonism. Mill believed that welfare—that is, what makes life good for the being that lives it—consists in pleasurable (or enjoyable) experiences, and that what makes these experiences good for their subject is their being pleasurable. Because both of these views can be ascribed to him, he can be called a full hedonist. But our experiences can be understood in two importantly different ways, each of which has various implications for any view of welfare based on them. It is important to notice, incidentally, that the distinction I am about to draw is independent of that between pleasurable experiences and the sources of pleasure drawn in chapter 2 (the distinction between the pleasurable experience of swimming, and the swimming itself). The following distinction is between two different conceptions of pleasurable experience.

We can speak of ‘experiencing something’. If

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