Hedonism is about making pleasure and happiness a high priority. Everyone wants to be happy, right?
Tropes about this hedonism can be divided into two categories. First, we have Ethical Hedonism, which is about caring about everyone's happiness (including one's own) in a responsible manner. On this good side, we have all reasonable versions of the philosophy of Ethical Hedonism. We also have a general desire for general happiness, based on empathy rather than philosophy.
On the other hand, we have non-ethical hedonism, which fails by being too shortsighted, misguided, uncontrolled, egocentric, selfish or similar. On this bad side, we have everything from a juvenile quest for instant gratification to the joy of harassing innocent people. Here is also room for misguided utilitarian extremists as well as strawmen and Straw Hypocrites who conveniently "forget" that other people have feelings too.
There is also another division, this time in scale. The hedonism can be either on a macro level, affecting everyone or at least a lot of people. Or it can be on a micro level, affecting only Bob and Alice and the people closest to them. On the Micro side, we have people simply living their lives. On the Macro side we have those who try to bring happiness to everyone, or at least a wider circle of people than themselves and their personal circle of friends.
Because of the natural tendency to simplify things, Ethical Hedonism is sometimes known as Utilitarianism or Teleology. This is practically true, since Ethical Hedonism is the most widespread form of Utilitarianism and Utilitarianism is the most widespread form of Teleology. However, it is slightly inaccurate to call Teleology the same thing as Ethical Hedonism, since:
- Teleological morality is the theory that actions should be judged by their results rather than by what principles they follow. The contrast is Deontology, the theory that actions should be judged by what principles they are based on rather than what results the actions have.
- Utilitarianism is the theory that the desirable results to aim for is to maximize the good and minimize the bad.
- Ethical Hedonism is the theory that the Good is happiness, pleasure, et cetera, while the bad is sorrow, suffering, et cetera.
Together, the two divisions forms four boxes. Several tropes fit into one of these boxes:
|Macro||For Happiness * Chaotic Good * Neutral Good * Lawful Good * Free-Love Future||Totalitarian Utilitarian * Well-Intentioned Extremist * Utopia Justifies the Means|
|Micro||Safe, Sane, and Consensual * Ethical Slut * Good Bad Girl * Chivalrous Pervert||The Hedonist * Chaotic Evil * Chaotic Neutral * For the Evulz * Lovable Sex Maniac * Sadist * Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny|
Please note that hedonism tropes are tropes about how to value happiness etc rather than about specific kinds of happiness, love or pleasure. Also, when adding a trope that fits this index, please add it both above (in a box or the list of related tropes) and in the index below. However, do not add counterexamples (such as the deontology tropes For Great Justice and Principles Zealot) to the index.
Tropes related to hedonistic morality include:
- The Useful Notes page on Ethical Hedonism.
- Epicureanism, a philosophy advocating ethical hedonism.
- Good Macro
- For Happiness: Characters who believe in Ethical Hedonism and/or have a general desire to spread happiness.
- Chaotic Good: One common view on Lawful Good versus Chaotic Good is that Lawful Good is about good rules while Chaotic Good is about good consequences.
- Neutral Good: ...while Neutral Good is both.
- Lawful Good: However! While many Lawful Good characters disregard happiness in favor of duty, there are also those who think that a good rule is a rule that maximizes happiness while minimizes suffering. In other words, they are rule-utilitarians, while the Chaotic Good are action-utilitarians.
- Free-Love Future: In the future, everyone is an Ethical Hedonist / Ethical Slut.
- Good Micro
- Safe, Sane, and Consensual: Do whatever you enjoy, but make sure to do it in such a way that you minimize the risk that someone comes to harm.
- Ethical Slut: Sex Is Good, but only if you handle it in an ethical way — without deceit, betrayal, etc.
- Good Bad Girl: A (gendered) ethical counterpart of Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny.
- Chivalrous Pervert: A (gendered) ethical counterpart of Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny.
- With Great Power Comes Great Perks: Enjoy your powers to improve your life and enjoy the perks. It isn't a rule that you must be a hero or a villain anyways...
- Bad Macro
- Bad Micro
- The Hedonist: Too shortsighted and self-centered to qualify as a true Hedonist.
- Chaotic Evil
- Chaotic Neutral
- Deathless and Debauched
- Executive Excess: A businessman too obsessed with indulgence and luxury to qualify as a Work Hard, Play Hard type.
- For the Evulz
- Lovable Sex Maniac
- Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: The desire for happiness, pleasure, and love has been short-circuited in this character.
- Bread and Circuses: When governments rely on hedonism to control the masses.
- Crapsack World, Escapist Sanctuary: When the real world is too terrible to cope with, characters seek happiness and pleasure in a dream world.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Giving the happiness of someone else a higher priority than one's own. Even a Narcissistic Hedonist might pull this one when really in love, while a Totalitarian Utilitarian will expand it to include pretty much anyone.
- Let Them Die Happy: Happiness is more important than truth, at least when knowing the truth makes no practical difference anymore.
- The McCoy: Hedonists frequently make up this part of a Freudian Trio, as they focus primarily on morality and emotion.
- Moral Dilemma: In utilitarian philosophy, every situation is a moral dilemma where one needs to figure out what course of action has the best consequences. (Rule Utilitarians attempt to avoid the Paralysis by Analysis that this can cause by establishing the system of rules that has the best consequences.)
- Grey-and-Gray Morality: When utilitarianism is applied to reality, there's almost never one choice that's all good and one that's all bad. All options have pros and cons that must be weighed against each other.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: When utilitarianism drifts off into a detached mathematical calculation of right and wrong, it can easily land in conclusions that seem, to most people, simply... alien.
- Sliding Scale of Unavoidable vs. Unforgivable: In utilitarian thinking, this can pretty much be a matter of mathematics.