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  Ethical hedonism (from Greek hedone, ‘pleasure’) is the doctrine, in philosophy, that when acting one morally ought to pursue only pleasure or happiness, for oneself and (perhaps) others. Psychological hedonism is the doctrine that, as a matter of fact, agents only ever do pursue their own pleasure or happiness.

These doctrines are very different. The first states that pleasure or happiness is the only good, and is a theory about how we ought to act rather than about how we do act. It is consistent with ethical hedonism that people sometimes actually act in pursuit of goals other than pleasure, and that people sometimes actually put the pleasure of others before their own. Neither of these are consistent with psychological hedonism. Further, one cannot conclude from the (supposed) fact that agents actually only ever pursue pleasure or happiness that agents ought only to pursue pleasure or happiness.

Ethical hedonists may hold that when acting one morally ought to pursue pleasure or happiness for others as well as oneself. They may hold that one should sometimes put the pleasure of others before one\'s own. So ethical hedonists need not be ethical egoists. AJ

See also altruism; happiness and pleasure.Further reading J.S. Mill, Utilitarianism; , G.E. Moore, Ethics.



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