The utilitarian philosophies of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill Sample Essay

Compare and contrast the useful doctrines of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Which do you believe is the more convincing moral theory. and why?

In footings of Utilitarianism. this assignment shall sketch the doctrines of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. It shall foremost exemplify the thoughts of Bentham and so follow on to compare and contrast those of Mill. To go on. the assignment will see the weakness qualities in both the men’s works. Bentham did go forth a great trade unsaid in his work yet the fact that he allowed for individualism to be applied to his theory shall be revealed. To a big extent. the work of Mill was profoundly valuable to the theory of Utilitarianism ; nevertheless a figure of facets can non be applied to all instances. Mill asserted his ain prepossessions into his theory so that it could non ever be found applicable. In consideration of these points I will explicate why I believe Bentham’s theory to be more convincing. or instead more appropriate.

Bentham preached that ‘an act is morally right if it produces the greatest balance of pleasance ( felicity ) over pain’ ( Khan. 2002. online: World Wide Web. jeromekahn123. tripod. com/utilitarianismtheethicaltheoryofalltimes/id4. hypertext markup language ) . He wrote a verse form so as to do methods in determination devising easy to retrieve ;

‘Intense. long. certain. speedy. fruitful. pure –

Such Markss in pleasances and in strivings endure

Such pleasances seek if private be they end

If it be public. broad allow them widen

Such strivings avoid. whatever be they view

If strivings come. allow them widen to few. ’

( Bentham cited in Shimomisse. 1999. online: World Wide Web. csudh. edu/phenom_studies/ethics/lect_3. htm ) .

By this verse form Bentham describes different factors that are of import in determination devising. By ‘intensity’ he means the strength of the pleasance or hurting that an action may do. by ‘long’ ; the continuance through which that pleasance or hurting exceeds. In citing ‘certainty’ he denotes the certainty or uncertainness experienced in the determination devising. by ‘speedy’ ; the convenience or unavailability of options when the action is to be made. ‘Fruitful’ indicates the inclination of the action to make a concatenation reaction of other pleasances or strivings. The consequence of an action may let go of one from hurting or may implement pleasance. A motive for felicity may set one in hurting. yet is seen to be worthwhile. He besides refers to the fact that a hurting may be worthwhile if it is to let go of one from other strivings. Finally pure signifies the figure of individuals affected by which grade of pleasance or hurting in consequence of the action. Puting oneself in the consequence of a hurting may be worthwhile if it is to make good for another ; this may be seen as a baronial quality but is non needfully expected of a individual.

Bentham’s doctrine was that each adult male finally wants to be happy and so. in taking each of these factors into history. the consequence should be taking towards an consequence of felicity and that strivings should be avoided ( Bentham. 2002. p5 ) . He justified the rule of public-service corporation by stating that ‘an action conforming to the rule of public-service corporation is right or at least non incorrect ; it ought to be done. or at least it is non the instance that it ought non be done’ ( Bentham cited in Mautner. 2002. online: World Wide Web. utilitarianism. com/bentham. htm ) .

Bentham so devised a concretion. called the hedonic equation. for the immediate analysis of a state of affairs. This concretion involved the summing up of all the advantages of an result of an action on one side versus the summing up of all the disadvantages of the result on the other. The attendant decisive factor would be whether the action causes more heartaches or more delectations ( Bentham cited in Beauchamp. 2001. p113 ) . He stated that felicity should be most wanted for the involvements of those concerned and that this could either be applied to the community in general or to an person ( Bentham. 2000. p5 ) . An of import factor of Bentham’s theory is that he did take into history the consequence of an action on other people. This point defined Bentham’s hypothesis from other hedonist theories doing him more involved in ‘collective egoism’ ( Shimomisse. 1999. online: World Wide Web. csudh. edu/phenom_studies/ethics/lect_3. htm ) .

As Bentham involved in the topic of jurisprudence he. applied his theory to the subject. He stated that the duty of legislators was to penalize those who had committed a offense with a punishment which gave more hurting ( or unpleasantry ) than the offense had given him pleasance ( Shimomisse. 1999. online: World Wide Web. csudh. edu/phenom_studies/ethics/lect_3. htm ) .

In the words of Mill. Bentham’s theory is ‘a most brief and general one’ ( Mill. 1859. p8 ) . Bentham’s theories on Utilitarianism are advanced and developed 1s of Bentham’s theories and in legion ways do non demo much disparity.

Similar to Bentham. Mill uses words such as ‘utility’ . ‘happiness’ and ‘pleasure’ as equivalent word ; ‘Desiring a thing and happening it pleasant…are…in stringency of linguistic communication. two different manners of calling the same psychological fact’ ( Mill cited in Milgram. 2000. p2 ) . Mill followed two basic rules. foremost that ‘actions are right in proportion as they tend to advance felicity. incorrect as they tend to advance the contrary of happiness’ and secondly ‘to do as one would be done by and love one’s neighbour as oneself’ ( Mill cited in Beauchamp. 2001. p108 ) . Factory shows more of an penetration to spiritual affairs in this theory and considers that Bentham has a position that mankind’s merely involvements are in ‘self-interest…sympathies. or on occasion antipathies’ . A point that Mill makes is that Bentham does non place with man’s involvements in ‘spiritual perfection’ or ‘self-respect’ ( Mill. 1859. p8 ) . He felt that Bentham’s nomenclature for such a assortment of motives was excessively remarkable and simple ( Lachs. 2002. online: World Wide Web. utilitarianism. com/mill. htm ) . These comments on Bentham’s work distinguish Mill as more selfless than Bentham was egocentric or hedonic and that. in footings of ethical motives and duties. Mill was more discerning ( Shimomisse. 1999. online: World Wide Web. csudh. edu/phenom_studies/ethics/lect_3. htm ) . Either manner. Mill did still follow the ‘Greatest Happiness Principle’ ;

‘actions are right in proportion as they tend to advance felicity. incorrect as they tend to bring forth the contrary of felicity. By felicity is intended pleasances and the absence of hurting. by unhappiness. hurting and the want of pleasance. All desirable things ( which are legion in the useful as in any other strategy ) are desirable either for the pleasance built-in in themselves. or as agencies to the publicity of pleasance and the bar of pain’

( Shimomisse. 1999. online: World Wide Web. csudh. edu/phenom_studies/ethics/lect_3. htm ) .

Mill expanded on Bentham’s history of what felicity was by stressing moral and rational pleasances over those of ‘mere sensation’ and ‘superiority of mental over bodily pleasures’ ( Mill cited in Beauchamp. 2001. p107 ) . While Bentham had left the look of felicity unfastened to reading. Mill felt that ‘it is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a hog satisfied… and that if the sap. or the hog. is of a different sentiment. it is because they merely know their ain side of the question’ ( Mill cited in Beauchamp. 2001. p108 ) . He besides opposed the hedonic equation as non all pleasances or strivings are preferred or resented every bit ( Mill cited in Beauchamp. 2001. pp107-8 ) . To province this more clearly I present a simplified illustration ; one may believe of eating a bran gem. As plus points to eating the gem 1 ) he is hungry and 2 ) he loves the gustatory sensation of bran gems and on the minus side the lone factor to non eating it is that he has an allergic reaction to bran that causes him to halt external respiration. In relation to Bentham’s hedonic equation the fact that there are two positive sides and merely one negative would do the adult male to eat the gem. Mill argues that the result of Bentham’s rule is non logical and that a ‘decided penchant criterion’ is needed ( Mill cited in Milgram. 2000. p6 ) .

Mill’s ‘decided penchant criterion’ composes of either doing determinations in footings of what choices one has learnt from earlier. or by confer withing the penchants of other people who have learnt from past experience ( Mill cited in Milgram. 2000. p6 ) . Whether or non the informants are incorrect. Mill makes no remark. In judgement of Mill’s ‘decided penchant criterion’ all personal gustatory sensation is cancelled.

In sing which theory of the two is more convincing I shall see each of failures of the theories. While Bentham’s work is really minimum it is left unfastened to reading. Factory does spread out on Bentham’s work and yet I find that he goes to the following extreme and that his extensions do his theories to merely use to certain instances.

In looking at Bentham’s version of motive being felicity. it is true to state that cipher wants to be unhappy or discontented. It is merely sensible to state that every individual wants what they want and when they get what they want they are happy. Sing that one wants what they don’t want it would merely be due to the fact that it is a agency to finally acquire what they want. for illustration one may non desire to run but will make it so that they may acquire fit. Human nature is selfish. even in love people love others due to the fact that the other individual makes them experience like a better individual. Even though Mill feels that Bentham does non take ‘spiritual perfection’ into history Bentham still does non straight disregard it. ‘Self-respect’ once more is a selfish motivation. one will move in a mode that makes him experience good about himself and so it makes him happy.

Indeed Bentham’s hedonic equation has the failing that Mill proposes. yet his effort to rectify it through the ‘decided penchant criterion’ is once more a failing on Mill’s behalf. Merely because one individual has an experience over the other does non intend that the other will hold the same penchant. Indeed person else’s penchant may be taken into history but may certainly non be the lone make up one’s minding factor.

Finally the presupposition that ‘it is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a hog satisfied… and that if the sap. or the hog. is of a different sentiment. it is because they merely know their ain side of the question’ ( Mill cited in Beauchamp. 2001. p108 ) . This may be the point where Mill’s biases acquire him into the most problem. His sentiment is shown greatly here through his abuse to those that may experience otherwise. Indeed many people who are non fools would instead non cognize certain informations that they have the entree to. This does non do them a sap ; it is simply their personal gustatory sensation. As an illustration take the political state of affairs in Zimbabwe. Many jobs of terrorist act occur repeatedly with barely any hope or agencies of an terminal to the state of affairs. holding each awful happening known over and over becomes a factor that can do depression. One may desire to go forth the state for their ain safety yet many are non able to and so hold to populate on under such fortunes. In such a instance. for many it is better to be a sap satisfied than to be the wise 1 who is continuously good informed.

In decision Bentham does go forth much unsaid. yet in such a mode that leaves his theory one that may be applied to every state of affairs. His work is more applicable as a airs to Mill who merely added to Bentham’s work as it merely seemed excessively simple. Mill’s ‘decided penchant criterion’ may decidedly be taken into history yet may non be applied in the mode that he suggests. Bentham’s ‘hedonistic equation’ may besides be taken into history yet may non be the determinant factor. While Mill’s work may work for some it may non work for all. his instrumentalism does him no justness. Bentham’s work is minimum. applicable and has no prejudices. by far the most appropriate theory ; ‘an action conforming to the rule of public-service corporation is right or at least non incorrect ; it ought to be done. or at least it is non the instance that it ought non be done’ ( Bentham cited in Mautner. 2002. online: World Wide Web. utilitarianism. com/bentham. htm ) .

Resources:

Beauchamp. T. ( 2001 ) . Philosophic Ethical motives: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy ( 3rd Edition ) . Georgetown University.

Bentham. ( 2002 ) . Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. London.

Kahn. J. ( 2002 ) . Bentham’s Paradox. available online: World Wide Web. jeromekahn123. tripod. com/utilitarianismtheethicaltheoryofalltimes/id4. hypertext markup language. cited May 2003.

Lachs. J. ( 2002 ) . Mill. Hedonism and Value. available online: World Wide Web. utilitarianism. com/mill. htm. cited May 2003.

Mautner. J. ( 2002 ) . Jeremy Bentham ( 1748 – 1832 ) . available online: World Wide Web. utilitarianism. com/bentham. htm. cited May 2003.

Milgram. E. ( 2000 ) . Mill’s ( 1806-73 ) Proof of the Principle of Utility. Chicago

Mill. J. ( 1859 ) . Bentham. Westminster.

Shimonisse. E. ( 1999 ) . Utilitarianism ( Bentham and John S Mill ) : Universalized Hedonism ( and Egoism ) . available online: World Wide Web. csudh. edu/phenom_studies/ethics/lect_3. htm. cited May 2003.