Systematic Survey of ETHR111:
How convincing is the thesis for the identification of happiness with pleasure?
In my systematic survey, I am going to analyze if the thesis for the identification of happiness with pleasure is convincing. In doing this, I am going to use Wayne Davis’ and Daniel Hybron’s views and ideas about happiness and pleasure. In order to investigate the convincing proof of pleasure thesis on happiness, we first have to understand their conceptions and explanations of pleasure and happiness individually.
According to Wayne Davis, pleasure and happiness come from the same state of mind or mental state. Davis separates happiness into two; occurent and dispositional. Occurent ones are the “episodes” of happiness; they are segments of happiness which are happening just for the moment. Dispositional happiness on the other hand, is the type of happiness which has some sense of durability, which prolongs, continues. In Davis’ words, it is the type of happiness which is “permanent”.
According to Wayne Davis, getting pleasure is equal to “happification”. It is a term invented by Davis. He then splits sources of pleasure (ergo happiness) into two: epistemic, and non-epistemic. Epistemic pleasures come from the belief that I do something pleasant. When we help someone, or contribute to charity, it belongs to epistemic pleasure. The pleasure comes from the idea that we are doing something considered as “good” by the society. According to him, non-epistemic pleasure which comes from the action, which comes from an episode, doesn’t bring happiness.
Along with other noted philosophers, John Stuart Mill developed the nineteenth century philosophy known as Utilitarianism - the contention that man should judge everything in life based upon its ability to promote the greatest individual happiness. While Bentham, in particular, is acknowledged as the philosophy's founder, it was Mill who justified the axiom through reason. He maintained that ...
According to Davis, every relational pleasure is equivalent with a relational happiness. Davis has this thesis of “The happier I am, it means that I am having pleasure, and if I am having pleasure, it means I am getting happier.” His idea is that happiness is identical with only occurent pleasures.
I agree with Davis in this point, of course the place of pleasure cannot be denied in happiness. However I don’t agree with the part that it is totally “identical” with happiness. I believe happiness is more complex than that and it consists more elements other than simply pleasure.
According to Daniel Haybron, there are two types of happiness; psychological and prudential. Psychological happiness is related with hedonism and it is purely psychological whereas prudential happiness is related with Greek eudaimonia and it is a particular condition in life, state of affairs, flourishing.
Haybron suggests that happiness is more than an episodic and backward-looking phenomenon, as hedonism suggests. He explains that it is more like a psychological disposition that influences our hedonic experiences. He disassociates pleasure from happiness. Even though I believe that happiness is not truly identical to pleasure, I also don’t believe that pleasure can completely be eliminated from happiness, I think that it is a main part of happiness.
In my systematic survey, I focused on Wayne Davis and Daniel Haybron; who both explained pleasure’s role on happiness but only from two different aspects. When Davis identified happiness with pleasure, Haybron made a disassociation of pleasure from happiness. I don’t completely believe in both of them, however I believe even if it is not completely identical, being happy needs pleasure.