If there exists a "perfect" drug that could safely reproduce the exact same experience as the greatest happiness and pleasure possible for a specific candidate in every respect (hedonic, cognitive, etc.) without reducing the probability of future happiness (no associated negative risks or increases in risks), are there any negatives for this candidate in choosing this drug over more "natural" processes of happiness and pleasure (such as through relationships, eating, listening to music, etc.) according to a hedonist?

The only argument from hedonism I have seen against drugs is drug's negative instrumentality. How then would a hedonist argue against drugs if instrumentality was not an issue? This is a purely hypothetical situation, as there does not yet exist a "perfect" drug. However, this situation does feel similar to the situation where a person is capable of abusing drugs with a low probability of any negative outcomes. It seems difficult for a hedonist to argue against occasional, recreational drug use when the probability of negative outcomes is very low.


1 Answer 1


Well, first thing you need to know is what kind of hedonism are we talking about, and secondly if these drugs have negative repercussions on the future of the person taking the drug. From these two perspectives we get two different answers.

In the first case you can argue than the hedonism you practice doesn't mean full pleasure, all the time, for example the Epicureism prefer take a great pleasure with less future potential pain than one with a enormous amount of pleasure, but with a high rate to suffer in the future, while a Lucrece hedonism will be prefer the quantity against the quality, and take these drugs without thinking about any consequences, because only the present matters (more or less, it's not exactly like that).

In the second case, and if you choose an other type of hedonism, it will be in term of closeness the utilitarianism of rule.

So, for example you can argue the impossibility to perpetuate the pleasure for maximum of persons around you, and to create a more long term happiness, because if you depend on that drug, you need it, so you can live without this.

In other term you life will be based in this drug, and from another perspective if you depend of this drug, all the happiness created by it, it's only a illusion, and that mean as a long term you not sure if this drug will do the same effect on you, and also if this kind of happiness it's only possible because in this moment you are not you, and as a consequence it's not your life but the life of yourself drugged.

  • I split my last paragraph, in three o four sentences, and I clarified the meaning of them May 1, 2017 at 17:42
  • Thank you for your response! I was really wondering if the drug had no negative consequences. This is a purely hypothetical "perfect" drug. I was wondering if there are any other drawbacks according to a hedonist if instrumentality (risks of pain or decreased pleasure) was not a factor.
    – Jon Yang
    May 1, 2017 at 21:48
  • If any negative effect will not been able to grow, in fact nothing ethicaly can stop a hedonist to take this drug hourly/daily/monthly/whatever, if this "taking" doesn't mean instrumentalization of any of you desire or you being. So for Hedonist this drug will be the paradise in earth, nothing more. But if we would talk about other form of Hedonism like Utilitarism, this drug will must to distribute to all the society to be considered, good. May 2, 2017 at 6:15
  • Thanks for the response! What you said makes sense, I couldn't find a hedonistic argument against the drug if instrumentality was non-issue. That is also a good point about Utilitarianism. Thanks again!
    – Jon Yang
    May 2, 2017 at 17:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .