Pleasure Three Ways: Phenomenological, Attitudinal, Representational

  • Lucy Tomlinson

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis proposes that the only satisfactory theory of pleasure is an evaluativist theory where pleasurable experiences represent their objects as instantiating the property ‘good for me’. It elaborates on the theory by noting that the relationship between subject as self and the object of experience is crucial when defining the ‘good for me’ property and is essential to understanding how pleasure works. Other evaluativist treatments do not consider this factor but this thesis demonstrates it is the final puzzle piece in giving a complete theory of pleasure. Traditionally, philosophical theories of pleasure are divided between the phenomenological and attitudinal approaches. This division is motivated by the Heterogeneity Argument, which says that there is no common phenomenological factor that unites instances of pleasure. By undermining the Heterogeneity Argument, the two approaches can be combined, taking the best from both. This is achieved by adopting a representationalist approach to pleasurable experiences. This thesis also looks at pleasures connection to its assumed opposite, pain, and its place in the larger landscape of the emotion. It argues that instead of emotions being accompanied by feelings of pleasure, positive emotions such as joy or pride are determinates of pleasure. Finally it concludes that pleasure and pain are opposites but shows an important asymmetry with respect to attention.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJoel Smith (Supervisor) & Sean Crawford (Supervisor)


  • pleasure
  • pain
  • emotion
  • affect
  • attention
  • introspection
  • selfhood

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