Pleasure and Pain are Opposites

Supply of Pleasure and Pain

Supply of Pleasure and Pain



So what clarify the fact that pleasures and pains are opposites? My suggestion is that the oppositeness of pleasure and pain can be clarified by appeal to their value. That is, the fact that pleasure and pain are opposites is clarified by the fact that pleasure is fine and pain is awful, and that goodness and badness are appropriate opposites.

 Pleasure is not good in a purely extrinsic or conditional way; according to an influential and natural analysis of the nature of inherent value, for pleasure to be essentially precious is for it to be good in virtue of what it is in itself, not merely in virtue of what it produces, and for it to have its goodness essentially rather than merely contingently. The same principles apply, with the necessary modifications, to the badness of pain—pain has its badness essentially, in virtue of its intrinsic nature. The value of pleasure and pain is basic and vital.

Furthermore, the structure of the oppositeness of goodness and badness is having similar appearance but genetically different to that of pleasure and pain.  If x is good, then not-x might be bad or it might be neutral with respect to value. For example, given that it is bad that I am sick, it does not follow that it would be good if I were not sick, because my not being sick might neutral with respect to value. Similarly, if I am pained by the fact that I am sick, it does not follow that I would be pleased if I were not sick, since I might be indifferent.

To take another example, if I take pleasure in the sensations connected with a sip of beer, it does not follow that I would be pained by the lack of those sensations, since it is possible that I would be apathetic to the fact that I am not getting those sensations. Similarly, if it is good that I get those sensations, it does not follow that it would be bad not to get them; again, it might be neutral with respect to value. This suggests that pleasure and pain are opposites because they are opposite in value.

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