Lesson 10- JEREMY BENTHAM AND JOHN
Arnel O. Rivera
Based on the presentation of:
Mr. Alexander Rodis
The utilitarians said that the morally best act is the
one that produces the greatest amount of happiness
with everyone considered.
The difference of utilitarianism to Aristotle, the
Epicureans, and Augustine and Aquinas is that,
according to these earlier philosophers, it is your own
happiness that you should strive for.
THE QUESTION IS:
SHOULD WE AIM AT INCREASING THE AVERAGE
HAPPINESS OR THE TOTAL HAPPINESS – even if this would
reduce the happiness per person?
The utilitarians are usually interpreted as favoring increasing the
They believed that when you are trying to produce happiness, it
is not just your own happiness you should aim for but rather the
happiness of people in general.
It is common to attribute to the utilitarians the view that the
right act is the one that produces “the greatest number”.
We will interpret the utiliratians as favoring the view that the
more happiness as given number of people has, the better.
And again, according to this philosophy, your own happiness is
not more important morally than that of others.
It is the consequences of an act that determine its rightness.
JEREMY BENTHAM (1748-1832)
He equated happiness with pleasure.
“Nature has placed mankind under the governance of
two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for
them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as
determine what we shall do.
The word ought, right, good and the like have meaning
only when defined in terms pleasure,
In all other intelligible moral standards either must be
interpreted in terms of the pleasure standard or are
simply disguised versions of the pleasure standard in
the first place.
THE CALCULUS OF PLEASURE
Bentham believed that the pain and pleasure an act
produces can be evaluated solely with reference to
Which two or more courses of action you should take
should be determined by considering the probable
consequences of each possible act with respect to the
certainty, intensity, duration immediacy and extent (the
number of persons affected) of pleasure or pain it
produces, and with respect to the other kinds of sensations
it is likely to have as a result over the long run.
JOHN STUART MILL (1806-1873)
The most important difference between Mill and
Bentham is that Mill believed that some pleasures are
inherently better that others and are to be preferred
even over a greater amount of pleasure of an inferior
Thus in determining pleasure for which should strive,
we must consider the quality of the pleasure as well as
the quantity. Choose the pleasure of the highest
WHICH OF TWO PLEASURES IS OF
Pleasures preferred by intellectual will be found to be of
superior quality, for non-intellectuals “only know their own
side of the question.
According to Mill, it is not simply the quantity of pleasure
an act produces that determines its moral worth; the
quality of the pleasure produced must also be taken into
account. Mill is thus said to have recognized implicitly a
factor other than pleasure by which moral worth of actions
should be compared: the factor of quality. In other words,
he is said to have proposed a standard of moral worth other
than pleasure, a standard of “quality” by means of which
pleasure itself is evaluated.
BENTHAM UTILITARIANISM is called ACT
UTILITARIANISM – the rightness of an act is
determined by its effect on general happiness.
MILL UTILITARIANISM is RULE UTILITARIANISM –
although mill also subscribed to the act utilitarianism,
he said that we have to evaluate the moral correctness
of an action not with reference of its impact on the
general happiness by rather, with respect to the impact
on the general happiness of the rule or principle the
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