Friday, February 27, 2009

On Ethical Hedonism

I figure I'm going to get this question eventually - "What is ethical hedonism?" so I'll answer it, and give myself an excuse to write.

First, Hedonism: Life is pleasure. By some definitions, pleasure is the only thing that matters in life, and is the only thing which is "good". The term is widely thrown around, but usually has the above elements as central.

Ethical Hedonism still holds that pleasure is a defining goal in life, but puts the stipulation that it can't harm others. For example, most of us would agree that sex is quite pleasurable and is a standard hedonistic pursuit. The ethical hedonist, however, woudln't just do it whenever he or she wanted, or with whomever he or she wanted - considerations would have to be made for spouses, other primary relationships (of both/all partners) and the potential for harm.

Simply? You shouldn't fuck someone if you don't have permission from your (and their) other partners, unless they've got that agreement. If you're lying, cheating or could potentially hurt someone with your actions, then your actions probably don't fit under the "ethical" umbrella.

For the most part, we all live this way. People will often do stupid things that hurt someone else, but I've met very few honestly bad, hurtful people in my time (this could be because anyone like that wouldn't stay connected to me long). People who do stupid things or make bad choices aren't usually bad - they just fucked up.

Ultiamtely, ethics are decided by the individual, and we're all different. What's "harmful" to me might be matter-of-fact to you - and that's fine. But generally, people can appreciate the societial norms of the social groups they're in, and know what's considered "right" and what's not. Play by the rules, and you're probably doing alright.

If you're reading here, I have a feeling you're already an ethical hedonist.


  1. Very nice explanation. And that is quite a refreshing outlook. Nice to meet you!

  2. Thanks! It's nice to meet you, too. Looking forward to getting to know you better!