Utilitarianism is a theory aimed at defining one simple basis that can be applied when making any ethical decision. It is based on a human’s natural instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
Jeremy Bentham is widely regarded as the father of utilitarianism. He was born in 1748 into a family of lawyers and was himself, training to join the profession. During this process however, he became disillusioned by the state British law was in and set out to reform the system into a perfect one based on the ‘Greatest Happiness Principle,’ ‘the idea that pleasurable consequences are what qualify an action as being morally good’. Bentham observed that we are all governed by pain and pleasure; we all naturally aim to seek pleasure and avoid pain. He then decided that the best moral principle for governing our lives is one which uses this, the ‘Greatest Happiness Principle.’ This is that the amount of overall happiness or unhappiness that is caused by an action should determine whether an action is right or wrong. He stated,
‘the greatest happiness of all those whose interest is in question is the right and proper, and only right and proper end of human action’
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.
Bentham realised that because this theory is based on the outcome of our actions it may be difficult to assess fairly which action will produce the most happiness. He therefore developed the ‘hedonistic calculus’, a form of calculating the happiness resulting from an act by assessing 7 different factors of the pleasure produced such as intensity and duration. In doing this Bentham was attempting to create some sort of ...
... middle of paper ...
...ilitarianism, like any other ‘list of rules’ approach to morality can be wrong in certain situations and encourages people to blindly follow rules.
Utilitarianism is a reality, not just a theory like many other philosophies; it is practiced every day, for instance the vote system. This ongoing practice of utilitarianism in society has show that it is flawed. Just because the masses vote for something, doesn’t make it right. The masses can be fooled, as in Nazi Germany for example, thousands of people were behind Hitler even though his actions were undeniably evil. Utilitarianism is a logical system, but it requires some sort of basic, firm rules to prevent such gross injustices, violations of human rights, and just obviously wrong thing ever being allowed. This could be the ‘harm principle’ which Mill devised.
‘Acts of whatever kind, which, without justifiable cause, do harm to others, may be, and in the more important cases absolutely require to be, controlled by the unfavorable sentiments, and, when needful, by the active interference of mankind. The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.’
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- In this paper, I will define and explain Utilitarianism, then evaluate the proofs made to support it. In the nineteenth century, the philosophy of Utilitarianism was developed by John Stuart Mill. Utilitarianism is the theory that man should judge everything in life based upon its ability to promote the greatest individual happiness. While Jeremy Bentham is acknowledged as the father of Utilitarianism, it was Mill who defended its structure through reason. He continually reasoned that because human beings are capable of achieving conscious thought, they are not simply satisfied by physical pleasures; humans desire to pleasure their minds as well.... [tags: Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham]
1037 words (3 pages)
- In order to understand John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism we must first understand his history and motives in writing the series of essays. Mill had many influencers most notably his father James Mill and the father of Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham. James grew up poor but was influenced by his mother, who had high hopes for the formerly named Milne family, and educated himself becoming a preacher and then executive in the East India Company. James was a proponent of empiricism and believed in John Locke’s idea of man being born as a blank slate.... [tags: Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill]
1574 words (4.5 pages)
- Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, were both english philosophers that were born around the same time period, Bentham in 1748, and Mill in 1806. What these two had even more in common would be the fact that they were both major benefactors of Utilitarianism. Jeremy Bentham was known for a few things, he was a philosopher, an economist, a theoretical jurist, and one of the chief expounders and developers of Utilitarianism (Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "Jeremy Bentham"). John Stuart Mill was also known for several things that he has done.... [tags: utilitarianism, utility, utilitarians]
1349 words (3.9 pages)
- With Utilitarianism as a whole, I view the idea as a concept that has the potential to be good in theory, but only to an extent, and as one that will, without a doubt, always fail in actual practice. In an argument against it, I view that with this mindset, while we try to focus on how to maximize a person or person’s pleasure/happiness/etc. we gloss over far too many other factors that can have a major effect on the morality of the concept. Along with the morality, sometimes when a person may find pleasurable can be detrimental to their physical and emotional health, their mental stability, and their relationships with others.... [tags: Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham]
2126 words (6.1 pages)
- Crime have existed over many centuries, different eras affect the flow of crime and within those eras. Furthermore amongst individuals, there was different way of thinking into how to reduce and eliminate occurred. The act of crime cannot be eliminated, as different individuals have different perspectives of crime and for theses reasons, have different methods of advocating and eliminating crime. This essay will firstly explore the views of Classical Theory, by looking at Cesane Beccaria, the father of Classical theory and Jeremy Bentham, the founder of Utilitarian and explore how there influences are incorporated into laws and regulations, around the world.... [tags: feudalism, capitalism, biological theories]
1636 words (4.7 pages)
- The Differences in John Stuart Mills and Jeremy Bentham's Versions of Utilitarianism In what ways did John Stuart Mill's version of utilitarianism differ from that of Jeremy Bentham. Which do you consider preferable. The Cambridge International Dictionary of English defines utilitarianism as "the system of thought which states that the best action or decision in a particular situation is the one which most benefits the most people". This is the main idea of the system of thought and it is from this the beliefs and opinions of John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873), Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832) and other early utilitarians were developed.... [tags: Papers]
2152 words (6.1 pages)
- Deontology vs. Utilitarianism: Case #1 Case: You are at home one evening with your family, when all of a sudden, a man throws open the door. He’s holding a shotgun in his hands, and he points it directly at your family. It seems he hasn’t seen you yet. You quietly and carefully retrieve the pistol your father keeps in his room for home protection. Are you morally allowed to use the pistol to kill the home invader. This case is a very difficult one because it’s not just involving you but it is involving the people you love dearest.... [tags: Ethics, Morality, Immanuel Kant, Utilitarianism]
884 words (2.5 pages)
- What We Ought To Do The world around us is filled with different people, animals, and different land features. Some we form personal relationships with and others remain indirect relationships. Humans are altruistic beings that have an ethical responsibility to always act in consideration of the interest of others as well as themselves. Based on an analysis of the ideas presented by Peter Singer from a utilitarian perspective, the Utilitarian Moral Theory, and Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethics; I determined that as an ethical and moral agent, I have a responsibility to care and attend to all indirect relationships such as ones involving the earth, animals, and people around me.... [tags: Ethics, Utilitarianism, Morality, Jeremy Bentham]
1234 words (3.5 pages)
- Good afternoon, Currently, you are an audience of personified moral dilemmas. Do you remember the fumes steaming from your muffler when you drove here. That’s your contribution to pollution. Is your make-up cruelty-free. Or did your lipstick violate the senses of a rabbit. Now, did you enjoy your lunch. You paid for your meal, but did you contemplate the fact you may now be supporting child labour. Behind the kitchen doors is the chef exploiting children workers. Questions of ethicality pervade individuals’ daily lives.... [tags: Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill]
1191 words (3.4 pages)
- What is Utilitarianism. I believe that utilitarianism is the theory in which actions are right if they produce happiness and wrong if they don’t produce happiness. Happiness is what every human being look forward to. When making a decision, all possible outcomes must be ensured that it will lead to happiness. Utilitarianism is based on the principle of utility .Utility is the ability to be useful while satisfying needs. Utilitarianism is generally considered a moral theory that was found by Jeremey Bentham, a 19th century English philosopher and a social reformer.... [tags: Hedonic Calculus, happiness]
1014 words (2.9 pages)
- Assesment centers
- Education As the Most Powerful Agent of Political Socialization
- Assess whether you believe that representations of women in mens magazines such as Loaded and FHM are offensive and in poor taste.
- Assessing the Corporate Culture of Walt Disney
- Assessing Learners Needs in Education
- Ford Motor Company Marketing Strategy