Hedonism is the belief that pleasure, or the absence of pain, is the most important principle in determining the morality of a potential course of action. Pleasure can be things like “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll,” but it can also include any intrinsically valuable experience like reading a good book.
Hedonism is a type of consequentialism, and it has several forms. For example, normative hedonism is the idea that pleasure should be people’s primary motivation. On the other hand, motivational hedonism says that only pleasure and pain cause people to do what they do.
Egotistical hedonism requires a person to consider only his or her own pleasure in making choices. Conversely, altruistic hedonism says that the creation of pleasure for all people is the best way to measure if an action is ethical.
Regardless of the type of hedonism, critics fault it as a guide for morality because hedonism ignores all other values, such as freedom or fairness, when evaluating right and wrong.