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The Asymmetry Thesis: Pleasure and Pain's Radically Different Contributions To Well-Being

Date of Award

Winter 8-15-2012

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Philosophy/Neuroscience, and Psychology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In the philosophical literature, it has often been assumed that pleasure and pain play a symmetrical role in human well-being. I examine recent empirical results and argue that most ways of thinking about symmetry between pleasure and pain in relation to well-being are implausible given what we know from science. I argue that accepting an asymmetrical account of pleasure and pain can help solve several vexing problems in philosophical theories of well-being and beneficence.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

John Doris

Committee Members

Carl Craver, Julia Driver, Eric Brown, Simine Vazire, Dan Haybron


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