At the outset of the nineteenth century, an influential group of British thinkers developed a set of basic principles for addressing social problems. Extrapolating from Hume's emphasis on the natural human interest in utility, reformer Jeremy Bentham proposed a straightforward quantification of morality by reference to utilitarian outcomes. His An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789) offers a simple statement of the application of this ethical doctrine. Bentham's moral theory was founded on the assumption that it is the consequences of human actions that count in evaluating their merit and that the kind of consequence that matters for human happiness is just the achievement of pleasure and avoidance of pain. He argued that the hedonistic value of any human action is easily calculated by considering how intensely its pleasure is felt, how long that pleasure lasts, how certainly and how quickly it follows upon the performance of the action, and how likely it is to produce collateral benefits and avoid collateral harms. Taking such matters into account, we arrive at a net value of each action for any human being affected by it. All that remains, Bentham supposed, is to consider the extent of this pleasure, since the happiness of the community as a whole is nothing other than the sum of individual human interests. The principle of utility, then, defines the meaning of moral obligation by reference to the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people who are affected by performance of an action. Similarly, Bentham supposed that social policies are properly evaluated in light of their effect on the general well-being of the populations they involve. Punishing criminals is an effective way of deterring crime precisely because it pointedly alters the likely outcome of their actions, attaching the likelihood of future pain in order to outweigh the apparent gain of committing the crime. Thus, punishment must "fit" the crime by changing the likely perception of the value of committing it. John Stuart Mill Mill Life and Works . . Utilitarianism . . Individual Liberty . . Women's Rights Bibliography Internet Sources A generation later, utilitarianism found its most effective exponent in John Stuart Mill. Raised by his father, the philosopher James Mill, on strictly Benthamite principles, Mill devoted hi... ... middle of paper ... ...of it, or turn the conceptions and aspirations connected with it into any other direction, by whatever pretences they may be coloured, are relics of primitive barbarism." (Subjection of Women 4) Although few men can presently tolerate the prospect of living in intimate association with a genuinely equal partner, Mill clearly believed it not only possible but highly desirable to do so. Thus, the liberation of women from patriarchal restrictions holds great promise for human life generally. The individual property rights of women ought to be wholly independent of their marital status, for example, and their right to participate in the political process ought to be granted completely. (Efforts to secure suffrage for women had been a major issue of Mill's own service in the British Parliament.) Not only can women think as well as men, Mill argued, but their thought and experience inclines them to be more flexible and practical in applied reasoning and, perhaps, therefore morally superior to men. Certainly the provision of social equality for women would serve the general welfare of society by promoting justice, enhancing moral sensitivity, and securing liberty for all.
Bentham’s Utilitarianism sees the highest good as the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Jeremy Bentham believed that by adding up the amounts of pleasure and pain for each possible act we should be able to choose the good thing to do. Happiness equaled pleasure minus pain. Bentham provided a way of measuring pleasure and pain, he called it the hedonic calculus. There are seven criteria to this calculus. First being the intensity being measured – how strong is the pleasure. The second criteria, duration – how long will the pleasure last. The third, certainty – how likely or unlikely is the pleasure. Fourth, Propinquity - How far off in the future is the pleasure or pain. The fifth, fecundity – what is the likely hood that a succession of pleasure will follow. The sixth criteria, purity – What is the probability that the pain will lead to other pain. Lastly, is the extent – how many people will be affected. This calculus gave Bentham a method of testing whether an action is morally right in that if it was good it would result in the most pleasurable outcome, having weighed up all the elements. These factors weigh up the potential amount of pleasure or pain which might arise from moral actions to decide which would be the best option to take. Ideally this formula should determine which act has the best tendency and is therefore
Utilitarianism defined, is the contention that a man should judge everything based on the ability to promote the greatest individual happiness. In other words Utilitarianism states that good is what brings the most happiness to the most people. John Stuart Mill based his utilitarian principle on the decisions that we make. He says the decisions should always benefit the most people as much as possible no matter what the consequences might be. Mill says that we should weigh the outcomes and make our decisions based on the outcome that benefits the majority of the people. This leads to him stating that pleasure is the only desirable consequence of our decision or actions. Mill believes that human beings are endowed with the ability for conscious thought, and they are not satisfied with physical pleasures, but they strive to achieve pleasure of the mind as well.
For Mill, the freedom that enables each individual to explore his or her own particular way of life is essential for a generous and diverse development of humanity. The only source of potential within society to further continue human development is the spontaneity or creativity that lies within each individual. Mill has a utilitarian view on freedom. He was especially keen on individual liberty because it allowed the greatest measure of happiness. His concern is not to declare liberty as a natural right but to rather set out the appropriate constraints within ‘Civil or Social liberty’. Civil liberty is defined as the limit society can exert its legitimate power over each individual and social liberty has much to do with a political principle
The foundation of Utility is based on John Stuart Mill's notion that one must strive to act in such a way to produce the greatest good of the greatest number. Utility itself relies on the responsibility of the individual to remain impartial in his endeavor to produce the greatest good, looking past such extrinsic influences that may render the individual to seek a biased sense of satisfaction. In order for Utility to function as Mill wanted it to, honest judgment and objectivity must be an essential part of one's drive for the acquisition of the greatest good.
Throughout the essay, Mills speaks highly of utilitarianism as a way to construct a happier more stable society. “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness” (Mill 137). The ideas of such political philosophers such as Mills and Bentham enticed the modern world at the time of their publication, including the people of the U.S. The concept of utilitarianism started shaping America many years ago, and it is important to realize its consequence in modern day
The only arrangement that Mill uses between a man and a woman is marriage. Although marriage is popular and was popular so at this time, he regrets to include other scenarios advocating for women outside of marriage. In contemporary day, there are all sorts of lives that women lead, whether that is choosing to not get married, being a widow, a single mother, or even having a life partner. Mill does not address any of these other situations, that are equally likely, and by not doing so, doesn’t seem to really advocate for women’s own independence outside of marriage, nor fully pushes for women’s complete independence. This excludes women in these scenarios from what he is rallying for because Mill is trying to keep women from being seen as “slaves”
Mill, a supporter of utilitarianism, argues that greater equality for women would bring the greater good to both individuals and to the entire society. Political education for women would redirect the focus onto the common good of the society and avoid the potential issues stated previously. In the same manner that family-centered viewpoints affect how the entire society operates, Mill explains that the family structure must change in some ways in order to mirror the values that society should have, such as equality and individuality...
John Stuart Mill was one of the most influential Western philosopher. At the time, most Western philosophers had the tendency to look down on women. They believed that women are too emotional and are incapable of being rational. However, Mill was an exception to this as he was an advocate for gender equality (Utilitarian Ethics). He is also known for his work in Utilitarianism, which focuses on the consequence of an action and whether that action benefit a greater number of people (Utilitarian Ethics).
The ethical theory of utilitarianism is associated with the philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Utilitarianism essentially is the theory that good is what causes a person pleasure and evil is what causes a person pain. Bentham’s utilitarianism is sometimes titled Act Utilitarianism because it focuses on individual actions A “right” action, according to Betham, is one that produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Where a “wrong” action is one that would cause more pain than pleasure. Before a person commits an action, they should look at the consequences that it can have on the individual and others. Hedonic Calculus is a method in determining how much pleasure or pain an action will elicit. Hedonic Calculus consists of seven criteria including intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity and extent. Each criteria can be given a score between -10 (worst pain) to +10 (highest pleasure). The action becomes ethical and moral if there is an overall net happiness for everyone that is affected. An acti...
Both Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, had thoughts of the Principle of Utility and what it should be like. Bentham believes that the Principle of Utility depends on pain and pleasure and Mill believes that the Principle of Utility depends on higher pleasures and lower pleasures. Pain meaning evil and pleasure meaning good or greater benefits and higher pleasures meaning that action was good which would lead to a higher level of happiness and lower pleasures meaning bad which would lead to a decreasing level of happiness. Therefore, a normative ethical theory that has come through from this and it is Utilitarianism. The definition of Utilitarianism is a course of action that maximizes the total
Here Bentham is saying that the principle is the only valid of deciding and justifying our actions, that the principle should be applied regardless of any others, as it is the only true and reliable way of defining whether an action is right or wrong. An advantage of utilitarianism is that it can be applied to any situation. Unlike many moral approaches you are not restricted by rules such as ‘it is always wrong to lie,’ or ‘killing is never right.’ This allows the philosopher to consider any dilemma or problem in it’s own specific context. For example applying Kantian ethics, abortion or euthanasia would have to be defined as wrong, however a utilitarian has the scope to make there own decision considering a range of factors and situations.
In its political philosophy utilitarianism provides an alternative to theories of natural law and the social contract by basing the authority of government and the sanctity of individual rights upon their utility, or measure of happiness gained. As an egalitarian doctrine, where everyone’s happiness counts equally, the rational, relatively straightforward nature of utilitarianism offers an attractive model for democratic government. It offers practical methods for deciding the morally right course of action - “...an action is right as it tends to promote happiness, wrong as it tends to diminish it, for the party whose interests are in question” (Bentham, 1780). To discover what we should do in a given situation, we identify the various courses of action that we could take, then determine any foreseeable benefits and harms to all affected by the ramifications of our decision. In fact, some of the early pioneers of utilitarianism, such as Bentham and Mill, campaigned for equality in terms of women's suffrage, decriminalization of homosexuality, and abolition of slavery (Boralevi, 1984). Utilitarianism seems to support democracy as one could interpret governments working to promote the public interest and welfare of citizens as striving for liberty for the greatest amount of people. While utilitarianism at its heart is a theory that calls for progressive social change through peaceful political processes, there are some difficulties in relying on it as the sole method for moral decision-making. In this essay I will assess the effectiveness of utilitarianism as a philosophy of government by examining the arguments against it.
According to Mill, men wanted women to tend to their needs without forcing them. A wife who seemed to be forced to serve their husband ...
Michael Sanders, a Professor at Harvard University, gave a lecture titled “Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do? The Moral Side of Murder” to nearly a thousand student’s in attendance. The lecture touched on two contrasting philosophies of morality. The first philosophy of morality discussed in the lecture is called Consequentialism. This is the view that "the consequences of one 's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct.” (Consequentialism) This type of moral thinking became known as utilitarianism and was formulated by Jeremy Bentham who basically argues that the most moral thing to do is to bring the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number of people possible.