An introduction to the concept of utilitarianism theory

Indeed, perhaps more than Locke, Bentham saw the positive role to be played by law and government, particularly in achieving community well-being. There is some evidence that, from the sidelines, he played a "more than passive part" in the planning discussions for the new institution, although it is also apparent that "his interest was greater than his influence".

Bentham himself said that he discovered the principle of utility in the 18th-century writings of various thinkers: It permits a particular act on a particular occasion to be adjudged right or wrong according to whether it is in accordance with or in violation of a useful rule, and a rule is judged useful or not by the consequences of its general practice.

In sum, according to utilitarianism, morality is a matter of the nonmoral good produced that results from moral actions and rules, and moral duty is instrumental, not intrinsic. Nevertheless, Bentham envisages a solution to this as well. Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure.

The correct moral theory will never require us to commit serious injustices. Commentators on the writings of both men have continued the process of analyzing and codifying their work in order to more clearly define the doctrine. The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been witholden from them but by the hand of tyranny.

Ostensibly a plan for a penal code, An Introduction contains Bentham's view that individuals in society should act for the benefit of the community as a whole, and analyzes the means by which legislation should enumerate the penalties for those who refuse to contribute to the overall benefit of society.

He strongly believed that education should be more widely available, particularly to those who were not wealthy or who did not belong to the established church; in Bentham's time, membership of the Church of England and the capacity to bear considerable expenses were required of students entering the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

It is plain to see that the well-intentioned act of lying has backfired and the situation could have been addressed much early on, with perhaps less fallout. How do we know some pleasure are higher than others or which pleasures are higher.

To begin with, the idea of "relation" is but a "fictitious entity," though necessary for "convenience of discourse. How might a utilitarian respond to this argument.

Ethics: Utilitarianism, Part 1

When the essay was published in the Journal of Homosexuality inthe "Abstract" stated that Bentham's essay was the "first known argument for homosexual law reform in England". While most cultures in the world do not believe in taking the lives of innocent people, they often do believe in the right to defend themselves and their ideologies.

The day has been, I am sad to say in many places it is not yet past, in which the greater part of the species, under the denomination of slaves, have been treated by the law exactly upon the same footing, as, in England for example, the inferior races of animals are still.

BBC Hulton Picture Library The 20th century saw the development of various modifications and complications of the utilitarian theory. Law, Liberty and Government The notion of liberty present in Bentham's account is what is now generally referred to as "negative" liberty—freedom from external restraint or compulsion.

Ironically, its theory of economic value was framed primarily in terms of the cost of labour in production rather than in terms of the use value, or utility, of commodities. After his return to England inand for some 20 years thereafter, Bentham pursued—fruitlessly and at great expense—the idea of the panopticon.

Some philosophers in the utilitarian tradition have recognized certain wholly nonhedonistic values without losing their utilitarian credentials.

Bentham's moral philosophy, then, clearly reflects his psychological view that the primary motivators in human beings are pleasure and pain. Cooper, Kai Nielsen and Steven C.

His monetary view was close to the fundamental concepts employed in his model of utilitarian decision making. However, Bentham wanted such transparency to apply to everyone. This is largely by design, Bentham said that rights were non-sense on stilts.

To have a right in any meaningful sense entails that others cannot legitimately interfere with one's rights, and this implies that rights must be capable of enforcement. Bentham says that "[l]iberty is the absence of restraint" and so, to the extent that one is not hindered by others, one has liberty and is "free.

John Stuart Mill, Inhe briefly joined his brother Samuel in Russia, where he pursued his writing with even more than his usual intensity, and he devised a plan for the now infamous "Panopticon"—a model prison where all prisoners would be observable by unseen guards at all times—a project which he had hoped would interest the Czarina Catherine the Great.


Mills acknowledges that humankind often rejects the greater good in favor of selfish pleasures, but this is only because that portion of humanity does not have access to the higher thought, whatever the reason may be.

But I have a decided and insuperable objection to the putting of them to pain without any such view. For this to it must be true not only that there never has been a case where injustice was optimific but that it is not even logically conceivable that injustice could ever be optimific.

Mill — Higher and and lower pleasures. The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Utilitarian Theory The strengths of the utilitarian theory are several.

Indeed, Bentham held that all existing systems of morality can be "reduced to the principles of sympathy and antipathy," which is precisely that which defines utility. But these acts are clearly immoral regardless of how fruitful they might be for the greatest number.

Clarendon Press ; Oxford University Press, While he attacked both Tory and Whig policies, both the Reform Bill of promoted by Bentham's disciple, Lord Henry Brougham and later reforms in the century such as the secret ballot, advocated by Bentham's friend, George Grote, who was elected to parliament in reflected Benthamite concerns.

Deontological Ethics There are two major ethics theories that attempt to specify and justify moral rules and principles: utilitarianism and deontological ethics. Utilitarianism (also called consequentialism) is a moral theory developed and refined in the modern world in the writings of Jeremy Bentham () and John Stuart Mill ().

Apr 19,  · By: Jacob Mailander Written: December 4, Introduction Utilitarianism has been debated for hundreds of years, yet today the theory is still controversial among certain moral philosophers.

Some of the great thinkers of all time, like Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, believe that utilitarianism is the only way to. Utilitarianism is a moral and legal theory, with origins in classical philosophy, that was famously propagated in the 18th and 19th centuries by Jeremy Bentham.

Its general argument is that morality consists in bringing about the best state of affairs, and that the best state of affairs is the state with the greatest amount of happiness for the. Utilitarianism is one type of consequentialist ethical theory. Classical utilitarians and founders of the tradition include Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill Utility is only thing that is fundamentally good Act Utilitarianism–.

His monetary view was close to the fundamental concepts employed in his model of utilitarian decision making. His work is considered to be an early precursor of modern welfare economics.

[ citation needed ]. Mill’s work Utilitarianism, originally published in Fraser’s Magazine (), is an elegant defense of the general utilitarian doctrine and perhaps remains the best introduction to the subject.

In it utilitarianism is viewed as an ethics for ordinary individual behaviour as well as for legislation.

An introduction to the concept of utilitarianism theory
Rated 3/5 based on 20 review
SparkNotes: Utilitarianism: Summary