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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 6 March 2023

 

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent);

1. The high seas are of immense importance to the world’s ecosystem, economy, and society, and it is crucial that they are protected and managed effectively to ensure their continued health and sustainability. Discuss. (250 words).

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Why the question:

Governments meeting at the United Nations (UN) in New York City reached agreement on key substantive issues for a new Treaty to protect marine life in the high seas.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about high seas, their importance, threats faced by them and measures needed to protect them.

Directive word: 

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining high seas.

Body:

First, write about the importance of high seas – Natural resources, Biodiversity, Climate regulation, Navigation and trade and Scientific research etc.

Next, write about the major threats faced by them – illegal fishing, piracy, and the dumping of hazardous waste.

Next, write about the steps that needs to be taken in order to protect the high seas.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

The International Laws define high seas as all parts of the ocean that aren’t included in the exclusive economic zone, the territorial sea, the internal waters of a country, or the archipelagic waters of an archipelagic country. It infers that the high seas and associated resources are not directly owned or regulated by any country.

Recently, the United Nations member states agreed upon the high seas treaty, a first-ever legal framework for parts of the ocean outside national boundaries. The treaty places 30% of the world’s oceans into protected areas, puts more money into marine conservation, and means new rules for mining at sea.

Body

Importance of High Seas

  • The high seas – the vast open ocean and deep seabed areas found beyond any country’s national jurisdiction – cover about half of the Earth’s surface and 64% of global ocean area.
  • They hold great biodiversity but also remain the least-protected areas on our blue planet.
  • The high seas are home to an array of unique and little-known species, including deep-dwelling fishes and invertebrates that live long, slow-motion lives in eternal darkness.
  • The high seas also provide important habitat for many migratory species, such as whales, seabirds, sea turtles, tunas and sharks, that traverse ocean basins in search of food and mates.
  • Several marine species — including dolphins, whales, sea turtles and many fish — make long annual migrations, crossing national borders and the high seas.
  • Comprehensive protection of endangered species and habitats is not possible without High Seas
  • Around 90% of global warmingoccurs in the ocean, deeply affecting Marine life.
  • High seas are the  crucial component in global efforts to bring 30% of the world’s land and sea under protection by the end of the decade, a target known as“30 by 30”.
  • The treaty can have benefits for society (pharmaceuticals and food)and will help reverse biodiversity losses and ensure sustainable development.
  • The high seas treaty has also been an important matter pertainingto the North-South divide between poor and rich. Those who had resources have always been at an advantage from the activities in the high seas.

Conclusion

The newly established treaty will permit the establishment of marine protected areas within international waters. This will build resilience from climate change, protect marine life, and will also oblige countries to conduct environmental impact assessments of proposed activities on the high seas.


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

3. Do you think that setting up of an “independent watchdog” to oversee the electoral bond system will ensure the much-needed transparency and accountability in the electoral bond scheme? Critically analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

Why the question:

Five years since the Union government launched the electoral bond scheme in 2018 despite certain objections by the Election Commission (EC), the then Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said the political funding scheme could be improved by appointing an “independent watchdog”.

Key Demand of the question:

To critically analyse the performance of electoral bonds and role of a independent watchdog in improving transparency.

Directive word: 

Critically analyze – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving aims and objectives of introduction of electoral bonds.

Body:

In the first part, write about how this instrument of political party funding is aimed to ensure greater transparency by addressing the issue of anonymous financing. It sought to eliminate black money from the system.

Next, write about how they have increased opacity instead of increasing transparency and major issues associated with it.

Next, write about how the independent watchdog can herald transparency in the electoral bond scheme and also write its limitations.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward to improve transparency with respect to electoral bonds.

Introduction

Electoral bonds will allow donors to pay political parties using banks as an intermediary. Although called a bond, the banking instrument resembling promissory notes will not carry any interest. The electoral bond, which will be a bearer instrument, will not carry the name of the payee and can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore.

Body

Findings on Electoral bonds:

  • Since its introduction, electoral bonds have become an essential source of financing for all major political parties.
  • Between March 2018 and January 2021, electoral bonds worth Rs 6,514.50 crore were redeemed by parties.
  • While the ruling BJP has managed to receive the lion’s share (60.17%) of political funding made through the bonds, over half of the total income of all national and regional parties too was contributed through this method.
  • for both the principal political parties, it seems that the quantum of political donations channelised through cash donations/non-identifiable sources has decreased substantially.
  • Instead, today more funds are channelised through the formal banking system. This was not the case with the earlier system in which half of the political donations were not traceable as they were made in cash form.
  • Viewed from this angle, the electoral bonds scheme is an improvement over the previous system.

electoral bonds have only legitimized opacity:

  • The move could be misused, given the lack of disclosure requirements for individuals purchasing electoral bonds.
  • Electoral bonds make electoral funding even more opaque. It will bring more and more black money into the political system. electoral bonds would cause a “serious impact” on transparency in funding of political parties
  • With electoral bonds there can be a legal channel for companies to round-trip their tax haven cash to a political party. If this could be arranged, then a businessman could lobby for a change in policy, and legally funnel a part of the profits accruing from this policy change to the politician or party that brought it about.
  • The amendments would pump in black money for political funding through shell companies and allow “unchecked foreign funding of political parties in India which could lead to Indian politics being influenced by foreign companies
  • Companies no longer need to declare the names of the parties to which they have donated so shareholders won’t know where their money has gone.
  • They have potential to load the dice heavily in favour of the ruling party as the donor bank and the receiver bank know the identity of the person. But both the banks report to the RBI which, in turn, is subject to the Central government’s will to know.

Will an independent watchdog be effective to monitor Electoral Bonds

  • Ex- Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said the political funding scheme could be improved by appointing an “independent watchdog”.
  • A watchdog could look at the data of donors maintained by the State Bank of India, which is the only bank authorised to sell the bonds, and then present a report to Parliament annually.
  • An impartial watchdog that can give a certificate to Parliament every year that this information was not shared anywhere, it is accurate and that it confirms no foreign funding and no shell companies have used the electoral bond route

Possible Lacunae in independent watchdog

  • Any policing arrangement can be vulnerable to pressures
  • If the watchdog doesn’t have sufficient powers to access and investigate information related to electoral bonds, then its another redundant body.

Way forward

  • This would require a strong legal framework that enables the watchdog to gather and analyze data, and take enforcement action where necessary.
  • The body would need to have a mandate and funding that are separate from the government, political parties, and other vested interests.
  • the watchdog would need to be staffed by qualified and experienced professionals who have the skills and expertise to monitor and regulate the use of electoral bonds effectively.

Conclusion

The 255th Law Commission Report on Electoral Reforms observed that opacity in political funding results in “lobbying and capture” of the government by big donors. Various commissions, including the Election Commission, have given detailed recommendations on suitable remedies. Public funding needs to be examined and introduced with proper checks and balances.

 

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

4. BIMSTEC provides an opportunity for member countries to enhance regional cooperation and integration, which can lead to economic growth and development. Elaborate with a special emphasis on the renewable energy potential of the region. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Why the question:

The seven countries along the Bay of Bengal face several challenges in the energy sector, like access and security, despite having access to vast resources. India hosted the first meeting of Governing Board of BIMSTEC Energy Centre in Bengaluru.

Key Demand of the question: 

To write about various opportunities provided by BIMSTEC and its potential with respect to renewable energy sector.

Directive word: 

Elaborate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by mentioning the mandate behind the launch of BIMSTEC.

Body:

First, write the about the various opportunities provided by BIMSTEC – Trade and Investment, Infrastructure Development, Tourism, Agricultural Development and People-to-People Contact etc.

Next, write about the potential of renewable energy in the BIMSTEC region – demand, potential, various sources and measures that are needed to harness it.

Conclusion:

Conclude writing a way forward to ensure holistic cooperation for mutual development of BIMSTEC.

Introduction

The Bay of Bengal is fast becoming a key area of economic and strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific. It’s the largest bay in the world and forms an important part of southern Asia. The limitations of SAARC due to multiple reasons have led to South Asian region being the least integrated region in the world vis-à-vis the European and ASEAN experiences.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia. BIMSTEC has gained more favour as the preferred platform for regional cooperation in South Asia

Body

Background: Energy scenario in BIMSTEC

  • Considering the current energy scenario in the region, the meeting recommended to add the additional following areas under the specialized Wings of BEC: (a) Cyber Security, (b) Green Hydrogen (c) Energy Transition.
  • The region encompasses vast energy resources, including 331 billion tonnes of coal, 718 million tonnes of oil, 76 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas, 386 GW of large hydropower and renewable energy of 1,359 GW potential.
  • The per capita electricity consumption continues to remain low in the region, with improvements made in recent years to ensure energy access in the region.
  • The installed electricity capacity in the region accounted for 438 GW in 2019, according to the data collected from the respective governments of the member nations. Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand have achieved 100 per cent or near 100 per cent energy access.
  • Bhutan has achieved 100 per cent energy access through off-grid energy sources. Nepal has achieved 78 per cent of energy access, while Bangladesh achieved 95 per cent of energy access. Myanmar reported its access to energy as 50 per cent in 2019.
  • Even though the electricity consumption in the region continues to increase, the supply remains inadequate.
  • While access to energy has increased in most countries except Myanmar, the overall generation mix is dominated by fossil fuel in major economies of BIMSTEC.
  • There is a need to decarbonise the power sector, thereby greening the energy access in the BIMSTEC region and fostering green access in the countries where energy access is still low and access is fossil dominant.

BIMSTEC: Enhancing regional cooperation and economic development

  • The region has countries with the fastest-growing economies in the world. The combined GDP in the region is around US$2 trillionand will likely grow further.
  • Trade among the BIMSTEC member countries reached six percent in just a decade, while in SAARC, it has remained around five percent since its inception.
  • Compared to SAARC, BIMSTEC has greater trade potential as well. Among the member countries, India’s intra-BIMSTEC trade is around 3 percent of its total trade.
  • BIMSTEC regional grouping happens to have five nations that are also part of SAARC. The fact that this region is growing at 6.5% per annum, collectively comprises of 1.5 billion people, is the drive behind India’s focus being part of BIMSTEC.

Clean energy potential

  • BIMSTEC is endowed with a significant clean energy resource potential of 386 GW of hydro and 1,359 GW of renewable.
  • Myanmar, India and Nepal have unused, profitable hydropower potential.
    • Myanmar could fully meet their electricity demand by developing unused hydro resources after considering appropriate measures that would not lead to environmental challenges.
  • Bhutan is the only country in the world that is carbon negative — it generates more oxygen than it consumes.
    • It generates 2.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, while the nation’s forest cover absorbs three times this amount.
  • Ninety-eight per cent of the electricity generation in Nepal is from hydropower and the rest uses other renewable energy sources.
    • Nepal generates 2,200 megawatts hydropower energy while a power plant of 5,000 MW capacity is in the pipeline. Clean energy can help in the reduction of 8.6 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030.
  • Bangladesh can diversify its energy resources by sharing hydropower, offshore wind power and an interconnected grid across the BIMSTEC region. Other technological solutions include SOL share peer-to-peer electricity trading network.
    • Its main function is connecting households with and without Solar Home Systems (SHS) with the local electricity trading networks, thus increasing the individual SHS by 30 per cent and allowing more people access to renewable energy at cheap rates.
  • Sri Lanka can tap renewable energy technologies to avail various social, economic and environmental gains.

Measures needed

  • Some of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recent development in this direction includes 5MW Moragolla hydro plant and 100MW Mannar wind power generation project, extending a credit line to install 60 megawatts of solar rooftop and developing renewable parks at Siyambalanduwa, Pooneryn and Mannar phase II.
  • India can take a stance in developing a green grid across the member nations through One Sun, One World, One Grid (OSOWOG) initiative.
  • The region enjoys tropical sunshine throughout the year, allowing solar power to be harnessed for large periods.
  • India has plans for an interconnected grid with Sri Lanka and is also working with Southeast Asian countries on OSOWOG.
    • Additionally, harnessing offshore wind energy in the Bay of Bengal region and distributing it throughout the grid would help increase the share of renewable energy in the region.
  • The BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection Coordination Committee aims to develop a policy for Trade, Exchange of Electricity and Tariff Mechanism and BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection Master Plan Study (BGIMPS).

Conclusion

Though the BIMSTEC region offers enormous renewable energy potential, it is necessary they are developed in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner. People’s participation is necessary as it will ensure that the sustainable development goals are met and the people in the region benefit from it.

There is a need to democratise dialogue on regional energy cooperation to build and maintain political trust and consensus by engaging in continuous dialogue on regional electricity integration and market development across all levels of stakeholders.

Value addition

Need for BIMSTEC and significance for India

  • Admittedly, the world has recently seen the rise of authoritarian rulers in many countries. However, this can hardly be viewed as a new phenomenon.
  • The role of China is possibly the most disrupting one, given the challenge it poses to the existing international order.
  • Militarily, China is openly challenging U.S. supremacy in many areas, including ‘state-of-the-art weaponry’such as hyper-sonic technology.
  • USA’s pivot to Indo-Pacific region has added a new dimension to the world order.
  • The other major risk stems from the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine— the latter being backed by the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
  • Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistanhas led to a material shift in the balance of power in an already troubled region on India’s periphery.
  • In Central Asia, India will be challenged on how best to manage its traditional friendship with Russiawith the pronounced tilt seen more recently in India-U.S. relations.
  • In West Asia, the challenge for India is how to manage its membership of the Second Quad(India, Israel, the UAE and the U.S.) with the conflicting interests of different players in the region.
  • Indian diplomacy will be under severe test to manage the extant situation in both regions.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

5. What is national income? Throw light on various methods of computing national income. Explain the importance of national income as a key indicator of the economic health and well-being of a country. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2023 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about national income, its importance and methods to compute it.

Directive word: 

Explain Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining national income.

Body:

First, write about the various methods of computation of national income – Product Method, Income Method and Expenditure Method.

Next, write about the importance of national income as a macroeconomic parameter – Economic growth, Employment, Government revenue, International trade and Planning and policy-making etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

National Income is the total value of all final goods and services produced by the country in certain year. The growth of National Income helps to know the progress of the country. In other words, the total amount of income accruing to a country from economic activities in a year’s time is known as national income. It includes payments made to all resources in the form of wages, interest, rent and profits. However, National income is not the sum of all incomes earned by all citizens, but only those incomes which accrue due to participation in the production process.

Body

The Net National Product at factor cost is known as National Income.

NNP @Factor Cost = National Income = NNP @Market Price – Taxes + Subsidies

Howeverthe Central Statistics Office (CSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation defines National Income of India as Net National Income at Market Price.

Major methods of National Income Calculation

  • Production Method
    • This method is also called as Output Method or Value Added Method
    • The production method gives us national income or national product based on the final value of the produce and the origin of the produce in terms of the industry.
    • All producing units are classified sector wise.
    • Primary sector is divided into agriculture, fisheries, animal husbandry.
    • Secondary sector consists of manufacturing.
    • Tertiary sector is divided into trade, transport, communication, banking, insurance etc.
    • Then, the net value added by each productive enterprises as well as by each industry or sector is estimated.
  • Income Method
    • Different factors of production are paid for their productive services rendered to an organization.
    • The various incomes that includes in these methods are wages, income of self employed, interest, profit, dividend, rents, and surplus of public sector and net flow of income from abroad.
  • Expenditure Method
    • The various sectors – the household sector, the government sector, the business sector, either spend their income on consumer goods and services or they save a part of their income.
    • These can be categorized as private consumption expenditure, private investment, public consumption, public investment etc.

Importance of National Income

  • Economic Policy
    • National income figures are an important tool of macroeconomic analysis and policy.
    • National income estimates are the most comprehensive measures of aggregate economic activity in an economy.
    • It is through such estimates that we know the aggregate yield of the economy and can lay down future economic policy for development.
  • Economic Planning
    • National income statistics are the most important tools for long-term and short-term economic planning.
    • A country cannot possibly frame a plan without having a prior knowledge of the trends in national income.
    • The Planning Commission in India also kept in view the national income estimates before formulating the five-year plans.
  • Economy’s Structure
    • National income statistics enable us to have clear idea about the structure of the economy.
    • It enables us to know the relative importance of the various sectors of the economy and their contribution towards national income.
    • From these studies we learn how income is produced, how it is distributed, how much is spent, saved or taxed.
  • Inflationary and Deflationary Gaps
    • National income and national product figures enable us to have an idea of the inflationary and deflationary gaps.
    • For accurate and timely anti- inflationary and deflationary policies, we need regular estimates of national income.
  • Budgetary Policies
    • Modern governments try to prepare their budgets within the framework of national income data and try to formulate anti-cyclical policies according to the facts revealed by the national income estimates.
    • Even the taxation and borrowing policies are so framed as to avoid fluctuations in national income.
  • National Expenditure:
    • National income studies show how national expenditure is divided between consumption expenditure and investment expenditure.
    • It enables us to provide for reasonable depreciation to maintain the capital stock of a community.
    • Too liberal allowance of depreciation may prove harmful as it may unnecessarily lead to a reduction in consumption.
  • Distribution of Grants-in-aid
    • National income estimates help a fair distribution of grants-in-aid by the federal governments to the state governments and other constituent units.
  • Standard of Living Comparison
    • National income studies help us to compare the standards of living of people in different countries and of people living in the same country at different times.
  • International Sphere
    • National income studies are important even in the international sphere as these estimates not only help us to fix the burden of international payments equitably amongst different nations but also enable us to determine the subscriptions and quotas of different countries to international organisations like the UNO, IMF, IBRD. etc.
  • Defence and Development
    • National income estimates help us to divide the national product between defence and development purposes.
    • From such figures we can easily know how much can be spared for war by the civilian population.
  • Public Sector
    • National income figures enable us to know the relative roles of public and private sectors in the economy.
    • If most of the activities are performed by the state, we can easily conclude that public sector is playing a dominant role.

Conclusion

In India, National Income is calculated by the combined method. It combines two methods i.e product or output method and the income method. This is done to overcome the problem of deficiency of statistics. The product method endeavours to find out the net contribution to national income of all producing units. The income method adds up income and payments accruing of factors of production. This method is used in the tertiary sector like government services banking etc and also in the commodity sector if output data is not available.

 

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

6. What are bio-computers? How do they work? Discuss the potential applications of this emerging technology across various fields. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) recently outlined a plan for a potentially revolutionary new area of research called “organoid intelligence”, which aims to create “biocomputers”: where brain cultures grown in the lab are coupled to real-world sensors and input/output devices. The scientists expect the technology to harness the processing power of the brain and understand the biological basis of human cognition, learning, and various neurological disorders.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about bio-computers, the technology it works and its potential application.

Directive word: 

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining bio-computers.

Body:

First, write about the premise on which the above technology works.

Next, write about the potential applications of bio-computers – Medical diagnosis and treatment, Drug discovery and development, Environmental monitoring and remediation, Data processing and machine learning, Biometric security and authentication, Energy production and optimization, Neural interfaces and brain-computer interfaces, Industrial processes and manufacturing etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

Biological computers use biologically derived molecules — such as DNA and/or proteins — to perform digital or real computations. These computers can perform certain operations much faster than traditional electronic computers and have the potential to revolutionize fields such as medicine and biotechnology.

Body

Background

  • Scientists at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) recently outlined a plan for a potentially revolutionary new area of research called “organoid intelligence”, which aims to create “biocomputers”: where brain cultures grown in the lab are coupled to real-world sensors and input/output devices.
  • The scientists expect the technology to harness the processing power of the brain and understand the biological basis of human cognition, learning, and various neurological disorders.

How Bio-computers work?

  • “Organoid intelligence” like Artificial intelligence is an area of study to create independent decision-making units using organoids.
  • Brain organoids are3D cultures of brain tissue prepared in the lab using human stem cells. These capture many structural and functional features of a developing human brain.
  • The scientists ultimately aim to create“biocomputers”: which are brain cultures grown in the lab and coupled to real-world sensors and input/output devices.

Potential Applications of Bio-Computers

  • The implantable biological computer is a device which could be used in various medical applications where intercellular evaluation and treatment are needed or required. It is especially useful in monitoring intercellular activity including mutation of genes.
  • The main advantage of this technology over other like technologies is the fact that through it, a doctor can focus on or find and treat only damaged or diseased cells.
  • Selective cell treatment is made possible.
  • Bio-computers made of RNA strands might eventually serve as brains for producing biofuels from cells, for example, or to control “smart drugs” that medicate only under certain conditions.
  • These biocomputers like human brains can be used for complex information processing.
  • These organoids can reveal the biological basis of human cognition, learning, and memory.
  • They can help in drug development and in decoding the pathology of degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and microcephaly.

Conclusion

The future for biological computing is bright. Biological computing is a young field which attempts to extract computing power from the collective action of large numbers of biological molecules. As scientists devote time and effort to research in the new field of biocomputing, these new technologies will revolutionize the medical field:  in the future, biocomputing may be used in the identification and treatment of various diseases and cancers.

 

Topic:Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

7. While hedonism has some appeal in its emphasis on pleasure and happiness, it also faces several significant critiques. Examine. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: newworldencyclopedia.org

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Philosophical Mondays’ in Mission-2023 Secure.

Key Demand of the question: 

write about hedonism and its critique.

Directive word: 

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must investigate the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by defining Hedonism.

Body:

Write about the appeal of Hedonism and its emphasis on pleasures and happiness.

Next, write a critique of hedonism – Hedonism can lead to immoral behaviour, Difficulty defining pleasure, Neglect of other important values and Hedonism can lead to addiction etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a balanced view on the above.

Introduction

The term “hedonism,” from the Greek word (hēdonē) for pleasure, refers to several related theories about what is good for us, how we should behave, and what motivates us to behave in the way that we do. All hedonistic theories identify pleasure and pain as the only important elements of whatever phenomena they are designed to describe.  If hedonistic theories identified pleasure and pain as merely two important elements, instead of the only important elements of what they are describing, then they would not be nearly as unpopular as they all are. However, the claim that pleasure and pain are the only things of ultimate importance is what makes hedonism distinctive and philosophically interesting.

Body

Background

Perhaps the earliest written record of hedonism comes from the Cārvāka, an Indian philosophical tradition based on the Barhaspatya sutras. The Cārvāka persisted for two thousand years (from about 600 B.C.E.). Most notably, the Cārvāka advocated scepticism and Hedonistic Egoism – that the right action is the one that brings the actor the most net pleasure. The Cārvāka acknowledged that some pain often accompanied, or was later caused by, sensual pleasure, but that pleasure was worth it.

As a theory of value, hedonism states that all and only pleasure is intrinsically valuable and all and only pain is intrinsically not valuable. Hedonists usually define pleasure and pain broadly, such that both physical and mental phenomena are included. Thus, a gentle massage and recalling a fond memory are both considered to cause pleasure and stubbing a toe and hearing about the death of a loved one are both considered to cause pain. With pleasure and pain so defined, hedonism as a theory about what is valuable for us is intuitively appealing. Indeed, its appeal is evidenced by the fact that nearly all historical and contemporary treatments of well-being allocate at least some space for discussion of hedonism.  Unfortunately for hedonism, the discussions rarely endorse it and some even deplore its focus on pleasure.

Critiques of hedonism

  • The most common argument against Hedonism is that pleasure is not the only thing that intrinsically contributes to well-being.
  • Living in reality, finding meaning in life, producing noteworthy achievements, building and maintaining friendships, achieving perfection in certain domains, and living in accordance with religious or moral laws are just some of the other things thought to intrinsically add value to our lives.
  • When presented with these apparently valuable aspects of life, Hedonists usually attempt to explain their apparent value in terms of pleasure.
    • A Hedonist would argue, for example, that friendship is not valuable in and of itself, rather it is valuable to the extent that it brings us pleasure.
  • Furthermore, to answer why we might help a friend even when it harms us, a Hedonist will argue that the prospect of future pleasure from receiving reciprocal favors from our friend, rather than the value of friendship itself, should motivate us to help in this way.

Conclusion

The future of hedonism seems bleak. The considerable number and strength of the arguments against Hedonism’s central principle (that pleasure and only pleasure intrinsically contributes positively to well-being and the opposite for pain) seem insurmountable. Hedonists have been creative in their definitions of pleasure so as to avoid these objections, but more often than not find themselves defending a theory that is not particularly hedonistic, realistic or both.


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