David Pearce (born 1959) is a philosopher and writer best known for his 1995 manifesto 'The hedonistic imperative'[1] and the associated ideas about abolishing suffering for all sentient life using biotechnology and other technologies.[2]


Pearce studied philosophy at Brasenose College, Oxford.[3] In 1998, together with Nick Bostrom, Pearce co-founded the World Transhumanist Association, today known as Humanity+.

Pearce is the director of bioethics of Invincible Wellbeing and is on the advisory boards of the Center on Long-Term Risk, the Organisation for the Prevention of Intense Suffering and the Qualia Research Institute. He is also a fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and is on the futurist advisory board of the Lifeboat Foundation.

Abolition of suffering

Pearce argues that it is technically feasible and ethically rational to abolish suffering on the planet by replacing Darwinian suffering-based motivational systems with minds motivated exclusively by pleasant experience. He stresses that this "abolitionist project" is compatible with a diverse set of values and "intentional objects".[2]

Other interests

Pearce has also written on the intelligence explosion,[4] wild animal welfare,[5] philosophy of mind,[6] affective enhancement,[7] and other topics at the intersection of transhumanism and effective altruism.

Further reading

Pearce, David (2007) The abolitionist project, HedWeb.

Pearce, David (1995) The hedonistic imperative, HedWeb.

Perry, Lucas (2018) The metaethics of joy, suffering, and artificial intelligence with Brian Tomasik and David Pearce, AI Alignment Podcast, August 16.

Tomasik, Brian (2016) Why I don’t focus on the Hedonistic Imperative, Essays on Reducing Suffering, October 5 (updated 20 July 2017).

HedWeb. Official website.

Invincible Wellbeing. Official website.

flourishing futures | gene drives | pain and suffering | suffering-focused ethics | transhumanism | wild animal welfare

  1. ^

    Pearce, David (1995) The hedonistic imperative, HedWeb.

  2. ^

    Pearce, David (2007) The abolitionist project, HedWeb.

  3. ^

    Brasenose College (2021) Notable alumni, Brasenose College.

  4. ^

    Pearce, David (2012) The biointelligence explosion, in Amnon H. Eden et al. (eds.) Singularity Hypotheses, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 199–238.

  5. ^
  6. ^

    Pearce, David (2014) Does physicalism entail monistic idealism? An experimentally testable conjecture, HedWeb, September (updated October 2014).

  7. ^

    Pearce, David (2002) Utopian Pharmacology: MDMA / Ecstasy and beyond, HedWeb (updated 2020).