TOP Q (6): Why Should Pleasure And Pain Matter Morally?

I have already begun to explain my own view of the nature and limits of the ethical value of pleasure and pain (and I’d pleased if you considered my views there and, admittedly, a bit pained if you do not bother to!)  But I would like to throw this out as today’s open philosophical question:  Are pleasures intrinsically good?  What about harmful pleasures?  are pains intrinsically bad?  What about helpful pains?  For my utilitarian readers, why do you think pleasure and pain can trump all other goods?  How do you answer the problem that if the only wrong is causing pain, then there’s no real wrong in murdering someone in their sleep (they’ll never know and experience no pain)?  Is my account of pleasure and pains as instrumental goods, rather than intrinsic ones, persuasive?  Why or why not?

And also, there are a couple of topics which I think got short shrift by way of comments in large part due to the website being down, beyond our control, for a full 24 hours between Monday and Tuesday of this week.  If you find them interesting, consider giving these questions a shot too:

3rd TOP Q: Can Virtues Conflict Or Must Every Truly Virtuous Action Be Approvable According To Every Other Virtue As Well?

TOP Q 4: What Obligations Is Someone Prominent Under When She Is Perceived To Speak For A Group?

And of course, the first two TOP Qs are also still interesting even several days later:

1st TOP Q: “How, If At All, Can People’s Claims To Simply Intuit That There Is A God Be Rationally Refuted Or Supported?”

2nd Top Q: “Is It Unfair To Call All Religions ‘Scams’?”

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.