“Pain” and “pleasure” are usually defined fairly loosely, such that what is pleasurable is what we desire, and what we desire is that which we find pleasurable. The same for aversions and pain. That is, in most ethics pain an pleasure do not refer exclusively to bodily, sensual pleasure and pain, but to anything we might desire or fear, for example, to any “positive” or “negative” emotions, or to the things which produce them. The only way you can desire something bad for yourself is if you are avoiding something worse (as you see it, in terms of your own values regarding pleasure and pain).
Thanks for this but there is a key distinction between pain/pleasure and desire/aversion that must not be lost else pain/pleasure become so general as to be near useless for the point of this debate. This is that desires and aversions are (objectively) fulfilled or thwarted whereas pain and pleasure are just (subjectively) satisfied or frustrated. Nozik’s Experience Machine captures this. Very briefly, if you choose to be happy (pleasure) falsely believing your loved ones’ desires are fulfilled whereas these are actually thwarted - you are focused on pain/pleasure - whereas if you chose to suffer (pain) falsely believing your loved ones’ desires are thwarted whereas they are actually fulfilled - you are focused on desire fulfillment. Most when asked chose the latter alternative valuing truth (actual fulfillment/thwarting in this case) over happiness (pain/pleasure)
Other-regarding acts can be seen as pleasurable, then, though I don’t see that that necessarily diminishes their moral value, even if we seek pleasure in them, and even if we would not do them if there were no pleasure or desire involved.
Besides the point of this thread I think? Anyway I introduced this to emphasize what I briefly expanded in the above paragraph.