I acknowledge my absence of formal training. I rely on immense curiosity and what I can learn from others. Problems with any post can be discussed in the comments section so that others will look there for further information.

In my layman’s opinion, correct reasoning results from a combination of logic and science using the defeasibility principle. The logical process involves a variety of approaches that depend upon the circumstances impinging upon the investigation. Names of the processes involved are adduction, induction, deduction, retroduction, falsification and so forth as seen in the following partial list, the point being that we correctly or incorrectly assess information in many ways to arrive at an opinion, even if we discount the indoctrinations of our early youth.

Abduction: evidence derives from an example, reason, or proof in discussion or analysis (Wikipedia). Adduce: to offer as example, reason, or proof in discussion or analysis. ( adduce: Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary)

Induction: In inductive reasoning the conclusion is reached from specific examples (Wikipedia). Inference of a generalized conclusion from particular instances. (Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary)

Deduction: In deductive reasoning, a conclusion is reached from general statements. (Mathematical induction is actually a form of deductive reasoning. (Wikipedia)
the deriving of a conclusion by reasoning; specifically: inference in which the conclusion about particulars follows necessarily from general or universal premises; b: a conclusion reached by logical deduction. (Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary)

From A. Sayer: Method in social science: a realist approach, (2nd ed.)London: Routledge, (1992). A “…mode of inference in which events are explained by postulating (and identifying) mechanisms which are capable of producing them…” (Wikipedia).

Retrodiction: to utilize present information or ideas to infer or explain (a past event or state of affairs (Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary).
In scientific method, the terms retrodiction or postdiction are used in several senses. “A retrodiction occurs when already gathered data is accounted for by a later theoretical advance in a more convincing fashion.” –Michael Clive Price (Wikipedia).

Reductionism is a philosophical position which holds that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents. This can be said of objects, phenomena, explanation, theories, and meanings… Reductionism does not preclude the existence of what might be called emergent phenomena, but it does imply the ability to understand those phenomena completely in terms of the processes from which they are composed. (Wikipedia). 1: explanation of complex life-science processes and phenomena in terms of the laws of physics and chemistry; also : a theory or doctrine that complete reductionism is possible. 2: a procedure or theory that reduces complex data and phenomena to simple terms (Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary).

Emergence: In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems… The idea of emergence has been around since at least the time of Aristotle. John Stuart Mill and Julian Huxley are just some of the historical scientists who have written on the concept (Wikipedia). 1: the act or an instance of emerging (Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary).

Falsification: …two types of statements are of particular value to scientists. The first are statements of observations, such as “there is a white swan.” The second are statements that categorize all instances of something, such as “all swans are white”. Falsifiability or refutability is the trait of a statement, hypothesis, or theory whereby it could be shown to be false if some conceivable observation were true. (Wikipedia)
; to prove or declare false (Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary). In the Wikipedia example, the discovery of black swans falsified (showed to be false) the statement “All swans are white.”

Falsifiability requires that we know of some conditions that would render our opinion false, and allows that we can believe it, or act as though it is true, for so long as no examples appear to render it false. Opposing opinions are not rejected, but set aside as meaningless in a process called abeyance. It is always the claimant’s onus to present whatever examples would render a falsifiable opinion (Such as, “Black swans exist”) verifiably untrue. In all cases, verifiability reigns supreme to avoid a wasted effort.

Let’s try something, now that we have a few things to work with, and try to learn by observation why only having one method according to which we can reason leads to false results, why verification must be required, and why the defeasibility principle is such an important part of the scientific method. Refer to the graphic displayed on The Scientific Method for a simplified version of that process, To start with, let me redefine hedonism according to Equalitarianism, and use the foregoing to see if it will fly:


1. Pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially as a reward for appreciated actions and behavior. That which wilfully unbalances or harms others is deemed immoral; that which aids others (altruism) is approved; actions known to be innocuous and those deemed good must be moral, the highest good being contributions to the overall community equilibrium, the highest reward being psychological satisfaction gained in such a way that one’s own equilibrium becomes enhanced.

2. Philosophy, of which the ethical doctrine holds that only what is pleasant or has pleasant consequences is intrinsically deserving of reward, only intrinsically bad actions deserve penalties, and innocuous actions deserve neither.

3. Psychology doctrine holding that behavior is motivated by the desire for reward and the avoidance of penalty.

Since numbers 2 and 3 are more explanatory of 1 than alternative to it, I will pick #1 to represent the entirety, as it appears that verifying it will serve for the whole packet. My intention is to restate the original dictionary definitions with new words to convey the original meanings. Let me, with that in mind, now separate #1 into its component thoughts, and verify each section according (I we can) to the way that seems most apt to generate that thought. This may require that we also learn the meanings of some ancient language:

(Hedonism is) 1. Pursuit of or devotion to pleasure… [—] ‘Pleasure’ possesses a treasury filled with synonyms, the most ubiquitous being the happiness promoted by our country’s founders. Realizing that pleasure arrives to us in many forms, modern westerners must appreciate temporary reprieves from stress, worry, anxiety and other psychological depressors that seem to overflow modern life. We all know the depletion of joy that leads to that, and can see how retroduction and adduction label the processes with which we reason it out. We also commonly experience the dwindling nature of joy sought as an end in itself, from failure to learn:

…especially as a reward for appreciated actions and behavior. [—]
Have you never heard a parent complain, “I believe in punishment, but not in rewarding kids for behaving the way they ought to in the first place?” A question could be asked, “What is wrong with people in a society that treats dogs in training better than their own children?” Ours is a punishment-oriented society. That means half the tools available for training our children go unused. That inference comes from experience and observation deducing the truth of the example. The deduced opinion is falsifiable by presenting data that shows it as incorrect by showing what must be correct. Looking in nature appears to verify it as we read about Pavlov’s experiments with dogs, watch animal trainers at work, and successful teachers reward students with praise.

That which wilfully unbalances others… [—]
Here, ancient words such as ataraxia
and eudemonia (by various spellings) come into play that generally refer to a blissful sense of wellbeing induced by satiation. Our modernized hedonism updates those outmoded terms and replaces them with equilibrium and balance derived from homeostasis and homeorhesis. From inferring the Gaia Theory applies as much to the supported life as it does to the home planet, and that outmoded terminology interferes with correct understanding of materials that should be easy to comprehend, we arrive at our conclusion. This may not be quite retrodiction, but that’s as close as we can get in that list.

…is deemed immoral; [—] In human practice, morality finds its definition according to whatever one’s culture declares it to mean. The term, immoral, gets used to define sin for most of us. In Gaian Ethics, morality gets based on a premise that whatever harms an environment will also harm its inhabitants, and whatever harms its inhabitants is wrong. Sin, when subjected to scientific investigation, gets redefined to that behavior which proves detrimental to human well-being. That would include the environment, overpopulation, acting to induce poor health in oneself and others, such actions as thievery and murder, forbidding of innocuous pleasures, purposefully spreading misinformation, and more far beyond what ten commandments could cover. Can we legitimately grant that opinions and practices found in a majority of societies represent a common set inherent to humanity would also eventually be found in common among freely practicing hedonists within their own society? If we look to reductionism and emergence, we may discover data of a type with which we could develop testable hypotheses. Since numerous developed societies already exist that can be studied, retroduction may also play a part.

…that which aids others (altruism) is approved; [—] Altruism gets bandied about with as many definitions as there are participants. The ideas behind giving back or ‘paying it forward’ have to be as hedonic as it gets. The stingy individuals who feel forced to support their communities and organizations to which they belong, who scowl when they drop their carefully calculated tithe into the plate, who throw a quarter at the blind beggar sitting on a sidewalk and shout “Get a job” while he tries in vain to find where it went, will never understand how pleasure rewards even kind deeds done for dogs. Will induction generate the kind of evidence needed to convince such people of what they have missed in their lives? No?

What, then, as there seems to be nothing supportive of a hedonic version of altruism. Only joy ignited by voluntary personal experience stands a chance. The obvious problem is how to go about inducing that. Maybe a bit of altruism of our own would work, like passing him some coins, then telling him—or her—that you need his help finding a truly needy person to pass them to. What you would be attempting, after all your words, would be to provide some form of verification. Wow!—I thought sure we’d run against a stump.

…actions known to be innocuous and those deemed good must be moral, [—] Again, a culture-related valuation. I failed to include that in my list of reasoning processes, didn’t I? Let’s insist, since that’s the case, that we use the system about which we are now learning, and assess our valuations according to that. We live in a free country. So we have that right. Right? So, if we can show how something is deemed ‘good’, we have a right to label it ‘moral’, especially since our brand of hedonism allows gathering cost/benefit data to show whether our assessment is accurate. ‘Good’ should never be against the law, however offensive some folks find it, unless they can gather equally honest and forceful data to show how harm results from it. Otherwise, they have no real case.

It’s when dealing with the innocuous that we run into problems. Many innocuous acts have been made illegal because of what somebody thought might happen, felt offended, called it blasphemous… any reason other than it failed tests designed to show those concerns were in error, taking offense as the only effect that results from the action, or that violation of the wall between church and state would be the only result of imposing the force of law against it. The principle of defeasibility should be put to work here, to stall any foolish diminishment of personal freedoms until after those demanding such drastic action can show (not just tell) why such an action is necessary, and that it would not cause more harm than good.

…the highest good being contributions to the overall community equilibrium, [—] That part of hedonism has been there all along, overlooked and unloved. Why?—because we don’t talk the same as people of 2500 years ago. Because we don’t have directly translatable words that mean the same thing three iterations later as the original. Because Christian linguicide did not get put into practice for another 500 years, and gluttony (sensualism) had already become known as hedonism by that time. This paragraph presents the idea that human beings fare better in a well-supported interactive community, with give and take flowing both ways—what I have described elsewhere as a nurturant community.

A question this raises concerns the effects of nurturance over other approaches we, as a social animal, have devised to assure the best problems/benefits ratio in a community and in governance at all layers. Retroduction seems to offer promise, but the use of predictions to generate testable hypotheses, as in the scientific method, should be much preferred. I would suggest an experiment wherein a person’s tax burden were reduced 1% for every year he/she stayed out of jail, to revert to full taxes the year of an incarceration.

Hedonism of this form, however, would likely be best investigated using whatever methods the social sciences have available. http://www.mises.org/rothbard/praxeologymethod.pdf will describe one not on our list. Reading it, however, may induce you to deduce that deduction’s process hides within the strange, unfamiliar terminology inviting brain freeze.

…the highest reward being psychological satisfaction [—] The achievement of equilibrium! “That was hard, but fun! Whew,” followed by a brief period of bliss while waiting for the next challenge. This is the ataraxia of Epicurus and Pyrrho, the state of mental ease so missing from today’s world. This is another case requiring personal experience to inform all interested parties exactly what we’re discussing. Go. Find something constructive that interests you. Do that. Report back with what you learned.

…gained in such a way that one’s own equilibrium becomes enhanced. [—] Now, that’s what we’ve been talking about. Gaining and maintaining a balanced state, the common failure of which enriches the bank accounts of psychologists, drug runners, pharmaceutical producers, breweries and distilleries around the world, remains the unexpressed aim of modern humans everywhere. The excessive prison populations of countries like the United States tell a story of high levels of disequilibrium that can be directly linked to increasing religio-political entanglement. As that increases, so do incarceration rates, medical costs for even simple procedures, and the rate of decline in the sense of wellbeing the future holds.

Were I to be so bold as to think myself qualified to make recommendations, I would suggest reeducating all our citizens to elicit critical thinking to where the common person sees the benefits to be gained. The practices of science and logic need to become well understood by all of us. Hedonism could be practiced along with such a program by offering some kind of meaningful reward to those who, say, take a correspondence course and show up to take a test, pass it, and demonstrate their knowledge by writing a paper about how the experience affected them for better or worse. Negative responses should be looked at as learning experiences by whomever runs the program.