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Colloquium 5

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Chapter Summary

Nearly all contemporary philosophers reject the ancient hedonist view that an agent has a reason to commit an action just in case that action is pleasing to that agent. But few (if any) do so on the ground that an action's being pleasing to an agent gives that agent no reason whatsoever to commit that action. Instead they opt for a compromise position according to which the rational authority of one's own pleasures is unassailable, but not unlimited. This chapter shows that a frequently overlooked argument from Plato's Philebus poses a powerful challenge to this widely held compromise position. If the author's interpretation of this argument is correct, then Plato's case against hedonism is more radical, more subtle, and ultimately more appealing than anyone has yet realized.

Keywords:hedonism; Philebus; philosophers; Plato; rational authority



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