Epicurean Ethics In this paper I am going to deal with Epicurean ethics. More specifically, I am going to center around the nature of pleasure and its connection with desire-satisfaction. Throughout the paper I will argue, the only thing we desire for its own sake is pleasure. Thus it is best to keep our desires simple in order to achieve the greatest feeling of pleasure. I will accomplish this by first giving arguments for why the only thing we desire for its own sake is pleasure, as well as arguments for why it is best to keep our desires simple.
Jeremy Bentham, arguably the founder of utilitarianism, leaned towards hedoism and believed pleasure is the only intrinsic good and we should make choices based on the amount of pleasure we will receive. He was most interested in this concept on an individual level. The amount of pleasure or satisfaction we receive and pain or suffering we avoid from an action is the amount of utility it is determined to have. Bentham went so far as to invent hedonic calculus, which considers factors such as intensity, duration, certainty, remoteness, fecundity, amount of people affected, etc to determine an act's amount of utility. John Stewart Mill tried to counteract problems from Bentham's theory by using the greatest happiness principle which, “is not the agent's own greatest happiness, but the greatest amount of happiness altogether”.
Anything else that has value is valuable merely as a means to securing pleasure for oneself. Epicurus associated this theory to a refined and individual view of the nature of pleasure, which lead him to recommend a virtuous, moderately frugal life as the best means to securing pleasure. His ethical theories find a foundation in the Aristotelian commonplace that the highest good is what is valued for its own sake, and not for the sake of anything else. Epicurus also agreed with Aristotle that happiness is the highest good. However, he disagreed with Aristotle by identifying happiness with pleasure.
Mill defines utilitarianism as the quest for happiness. His main point is that one should guide his or her judgements by what will give pleasure. Mill believes that a person should always seek to gain pleasure and reject pain. Utilitarianism also states that the actions of a person should be based upon the “greatest happiness principle”. This principle states that ethical actions command the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people.
Hedonistic Utilitarianism recognizes the intrinsic value of pain and pleasure; the fundamental goal of this moral theory would be to maximize pleasure while minimizing pain by any means. The motivation of the theory follows two views; is an action that leads to pleasure or avoids pain is positive, however if an action leads to pain and prevents pleasure is negative. John Stuart Mill believed that actions could determine the moral justification depending on the measure of the increased pleasure and pain decreased. Mills believed that some pleasure were higher than others, “It is better to be a human... ... middle of paper ... ...ot established, only the experience of accomplishment, “the machine gives you the precise set of experiences you would get from having those sorts of lives” (Sober 414). The experience machine presents a valid argument against Hedonistic Utilitarianism, because for many people pleasure is not the only intrinsic value in life; meaningful experiences, individuality, and accomplishments are valuable characteristics, which are essentially lost in the experience machine.
He claims that pleasure is the goal of life and that virtues are simply means. Epicurus was a consequentialist, he believed something is morally good because of something – a pleasure it may result in. So more generally when he claims that pleasure is the goal of the happy life, he means that it is ‘freedom from pain and…fear’ (ataraxia). He believes we have the need of pleasure only when there is an absence of pleasure from our lives, he also says that when we no longer feel pain, we don’t stand in the need for pleasure. So basically we seek certain pleasures in times of discomfort or pain to remove that, so when we attain the pleasure that will remove our pain and discomfort, that is when we have achieved a happy life.
The basic premise is the idea that the greatest good comes from creating happiness for the greatest number of people. Pleasure and freedom of pain are the only things desirable as ends. In Utilitarianism it is the greatest happiness of everyone involved which is right, so one must be impartial to one's own happiness. Utilitarianism takes the view that if needed, you should sacrifice your own happiness for greater pleasure of others. For Utilitarianism bases action on pleasure and pain.
Utilitarianism, the most popular form of consequentialism, is in the same vein with regard to moral actions and their likely consequences. A utilitarian will attempt to question the results of an action as would a consequentialist, however they ask the additional question: “furthermore, how much pleasure (happiness) would be created by the action?” A utilitarian’s moral concentration is on maximizing pleasure, as the utilitarian maxim affirms that one should act always as to maximize total pleasure. Maximizing total pleasure, a utilitarian believes, is equivalent to minimizing total pain, and this forms the basis for morality. Utilitarianism, hoping to promote, “the greatest good for the greatest number of people”, can have multiple associations. Act utilitarianism, often linked to philosopher Jeremy Bentham, relies on the nature of rationality and common sense.
Utilitarianism is based on the right being that which has a good or pleasant outcome, and immoral being an action with a bad outcome. Utilitarianism also maintains that we should act to maximize the happiness of everyone. Some philosophers see this principle as a strict requirement Jeremy Bentham, a philosopher came up with principles to utility. He was the first to propel the idea that an action should be judged by the amount of pleasure or pain it caused. His principle explained that a good action is on that brought pleasure while one that caused pain was evil.
The principal of utility is to maximize the happiness in ones self by using benefits misusing the harms. It acts as to produce advantage, pleasure, good or happiness and the greatest net balance of benefits over harms for all affected impartially. In Utilitarianism, J.S. Mill was trying to show that actions and institutions should increase the overall amount of happiness in the world, and stressed the importance of utilitarianism as the first principle in ethics. Happiness should be judged, not only by pleasure, but by pain as well, Mill believes that a person should always seek to gain pleasure and reject pain.