An analysis of utilitarianism as a moral principle defined by jeremy bentham and john stuart mill

Mill also held that natural features of human psychology, such as conscience and a sense of justice, underwrite motivation. But this answers neither the question of measurement nor the question of the comparison of interpersonal utility.

The History of Utilitarianism

They are desired and desirable in and for themselves; besides being means, they are a part of the end. Extrapolating from the example used above, we have people who advocate telling the truth, or what they believe to be the truth, even if the effects are bad because the truth is somehow misused by others.

Again, the upshot is that education matters. By this I mean the principle that, in deciding what is good and what is bad for a given individual, the ultimate criterion can only be his own wants and his own preferences. Mill said, "As between his own happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator.

However, rule utilitarianism proposes a more central role for rules that was thought to rescue the theory from some of its more devastating criticisms, particularly problems to do with justice and promise keeping.

It is important to think about whether this consequences-based understanding of morality is convincing. He concedes that people seem to strive for every possible thing as ultimate ends.


Mill not only viewed actions as a core part of utility, but as the directive rule of moral human conduct. Secondary Literature Crisp, Roger, As a social reformer, Bentham applied this principle to the laws of England -- for example, those areas of the law concerning crime and punishment.

A System of Logic, London: On Liberty, for example, which he published injust a few years before Utilitarianism, stands as one of the greatest expositions on civil liberty ever written and endures as an assertion of cultural freedom. He also adopted the moral sense approach.

A response to this criticism is to point out that whilst seeming to resolve some problems it introduces others.

Mill's Moral and Political Philosophy

But he can learn to bear its imperfections, if they are at all bearable; and they will not make him envy the being who is indeed unconscious of the imperfections, but only because he feels not at all the good which those imperfections qualify. Bentham is in the much more difficult position of arguing that effects are all there are to moral evaluation of action and policy.

We are morally obliged to follow those social rules and precepts the observance of which promotes happiness in the greatest extent possible.

Freedom of Will In various places of his work John Stuart Mill occupied himself with the question of the freedom of the human will. Compare and contrast the utilitarian philosophies of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Which do you think is the more convincing moral theory, and why?

In terms of Utilitarianism, this assignment shall outline the philosophies of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. *Jeremy Bentham *John Stuart Mill Henry Sidgwick.

policies, we must choose the one that has the best overall consequences for everyone concerned. 3 central features of utilitarianism and define each. 1. Consequentialist normative theory - the moral action is the one that gets us "the greatest good for the greatest number".

Jeremy Bentham (/ ˈ b ɛ n θ ə m /; 15 February [O.S. 4 February ] – 6 June ) was an English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. Bentham defined as the "fundamental axiom" of his philosophy the principle that "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong".

This principle has several formulations in Bentham and Mill as well as in utilitarianism after them. The two simplified formulations are: A. - The morally best (or better) alternative is that this produces the greatest (or greater) net utility, where utility is defined in terms of happiness or pleasure.

Though the seeds of the theory can be found in the hedonists Aristippus and Epicurus, who viewed happiness as the only good, the tradition of utilitarianism properly began with Bentham, and has included John Stuart Mill, Henry Sidgwick, R. M. Hare, David Braybrooke, and Peter Singer.

Utilitarianism is a theory of how basic human moral sentiments are translated into moral action; Mill's point in this first section is simply to make that sentiment relation apparent, and to emphasize that analysis of sentiment cannot be divorced from considerations of action.

An analysis of utilitarianism as a moral principle defined by jeremy bentham and john stuart mill
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The History of Utilitarianism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)