there are questions of what constitutes 'right
' - the will of a higher power (divine), or the greater good (utilitariansm
), or the individual (hedonism
Within utilitarianism two main branches form. One attempts to maximize the greater good at consequence (allowing for mind control, and drug euphoria - even against the will of the individuals). The other asks the question of preference which requires that the preferences are satisfied as well.
Within hedonism, similar questions arise. The classical definition of hedonism is "maximize individual happiness". This means what is right for an individual is what brings them pleasure. Professor Penner (University of Madison - Wisconsin Philosophy department (I highly recommend his class in ancient philosophy if you should be so lucky as to have the opportunity to take it)) suggests the maximization of "flourishing".
"That which makes the individual flourish" is a valid maxim of a branch of hedonism in that the concern is and evaluation is centered around the individual.
To be prosperous; to increase in wealth, honor, comfort, happiness, or whatever is desirable; to thrive; to be prominent and influential; specifically, of authors, painters, etc., to be in a state of activity or production.
What makes an individual successful? prosperous?
It is difficult to for many people to separate success and prosperity of the individual from those around them. They are both relative things. It is also not unusual for successful people to feel 'empty' inside and guilt over what may have been done to get there. Guilt comes from the
knowledge belief of having done something wrong. If some action makes one successful and prosperous while at the same time instilling guilt, either the person is mistaken in his or her ethics and shouldn't feel guilt over the action, or there is a contradiction. Similar problems arise in classical hedonism also. Carried to an extreme, this would lead to a world of cut throats without remorse - personal success above all else.
How can hedonism be approached in such a way that guilt is minimized? While it is true that every ethical system has those outliers where guilt exists, it can be minimized.
Self Worth. We never feel guilty about improving our own self worth - be that helping another (an altruistic act) or helping yourself. The internal meter of self worth balances our actions and tempers them. Cutting a throat (metaphorically) to get ahead may hinder our self worth while helping a coworker may advance it. yet it is true hedonism - the individual measure, and the individual is of the key importance. It allows for acts of charity and provides
a clear personal goal to attain.
"What makes me feel best about myself?"
That is what is right.