Chapter Five

1. Do you think that it is possible for a woman to experience happiness while giving birth? How does your answer relate to the views of hedonism discussed so far (either by way of supporting or undermining them)? Explain.

2. Explain Fred Feldman’s examples of Wendell and Dolores. Do you agree with him that these examples show that there are such things as unhappy pleasures and happy pains? Why or why not?

3. Explain the concept of attitudinal pleasure, and how it informs the view of attitudinal hedonism. What is the difference between Feldman’s attitudinal hedonism and the feeling-based accounts of hedonism discussed previously in Chapter Four?

4. Using the example of eating spicy food, explain why Feldman thinks that attitudes are prior to feelings and how that is contrary to the views expressed by John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham. Can you think of other examples where it seems as though our prior attitudes seem to cause us to experience a sensation as pleasurable or painful? Do you agree with Feldman’s view? Why or why not?

5. What are some ways in which Feldman’s attitudinal hedonism is similar to quantitative hedonism?

6. Explain how the view of attitudinal hedonism can make sense of cases like those of Wendell and Dolores.

7. Wanting and liking are associated with different processes in the brain, which offers evidence for our ability to sometimes want what we do not like, and vice versa. How does the example involving heroin addicts illustrate the difference between wanting and liking?

8. According to Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson, what is miswanting? What are three different explanations they identify that contribute to our miswanting? In answering this question, be sure to offer examples of each.

9. What advice can we glean from the phenomenon of miswanting about how best to pursue our own happiness?

10. Does the fact that we miswant offer an objection to the hedonist view of happiness, in your opinion? Why or why not?

11. Explain and discuss how Daniel Haybron uses the example of eating a cracker to object to hedonism. Explain some of the possible responses available to the hedonist in reply to Haybron. Do you think that these responses are adequate, or has Haybron successfully objected to hedonism? Explain your reasons for thinking as you do.

12. Explain Haybron’s emotional state theory of happiness. How is it different from hedonism?

13. How do central affects differ from peripheral affects, and which is more important to our happiness? Present and explain the five hallmark features of central affective states. In answering this question, be sure to offer examples for each feature.

14. Explain the two main ways of understanding the distinction between “positive” and “negative” affects. Which do you think is more accurate, and why?

15. How does understanding the difference between positive and negative emotionality according to proper functioning (rather than according to feeling) assume an evaluative rather than purely descriptive account of happiness?

16. Do you agree with Martha Nussbaum that treating emotions as “positive” or “negative” according only to their feeling is a serious problem for hedonistic theories of happiness? Why or why not?