Precursors to the Classical Approach Though the first systematic account of utilitarianism was developed by Jeremy Bentham —the core insight motivating the theory occurred much earlier.
It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do… By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: I say of every action whatsoever, and therefore not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government.
In Chapter IV, Bentham introduces a method of calculating the value of pleasures and pains, which has come to be known as the hedonic calculus. Finally, it is necessary to consider the extent, or the number of people affected by the action.
Mill " and can be more "a crude version of act utilitarianism conceived in the twentieth century as a straw man to be attacked and rejected.
His seminal work is concerned with the principles of legislation and the hedonic calculus is introduced with the words "Pleasures then, and the avoidance of pains, are the ends that the legislator has in view. This is considered in The Theory of Legislation, where Bentham distinguishes between evils of the first and second orders.
Those of the first order are the more immediate consequences; those of the second are when the consequences spread through the community causing "alarm" and "danger".
It is true there are cases in which, if we confine ourselves to the effects of the first order, the good will have an incontestable preponderance over the evil. Were the offence considered only under this point of view, it would not be easy to assign any good reasons to justify the rigour of the laws.
Every thing depends upon the evil of the second order; it is this which gives to such actions the character of crime, and which makes punishment necessary.
Let us take, for example, the physical desire of satisfying hunger. John Stuart Mill Mill was brought up as a Benthamite with the explicit intention that he would carry on the cause of utilitarianism. It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone.
Utility, within the context of utilitarianism, refers to people performing actions for social utility. With social utility, he means the well-being of many people. Thus, an action that results in the greatest pleasure for the utility of society is the best action, or as Jeremy Bentham, the founder of early Utilitarianism put it, as the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
Mill not only viewed actions as a core part of utility, but as the directive rule of moral human conduct. The rule being that we should only be committing actions that provide pleasure to society.
This view of pleasure was hedonistic, as it pursued the thought that pleasure is the highest good in life. This concept was adopted by Jeremy Bentham, the founder of Utilitarianism, and can be seen in his works.
According to Mill, good actions result in pleasure, and that there is no higher end than pleasure. Mill says that good actions lead to pleasure and define good character.
Better put, the justification of character, and whether an action is good or not, is based on how the person contributes to the concept of social utility. In the long run the best proof of a good character is good actions; and resolutely refuse to consider any mental disposition as good, of which the predominant tendency is to produce bad conduct.
In the last chapter of Utilitarianism, Mill concludes that justice, as a classifying factor of our actions being just or unjust is one of the certain moral requirements, and when the requirements are all regarded collectively, they are viewed as greater according to this scale of "social utility" as Mill puts it.
|Mill was raised in the tradition of Philosophical Radicalism, made famous by Jeremy Bentham —John Austin —and his father James Mill —which applied utilitarian principles in a self-conscious and systematic way to issues of institutional design and social reform.|
|As such, it moves beyond the scope of one's own interests and takes into account the interests of others. Bentham's Principle of Utility:|
|Mill's Moral and Political Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)||Precursors to the Classical Approach Though the first systematic account of utilitarianism was developed by Jeremy Bentham —the core insight motivating the theory occurred much earlier. Of these, Francis Hutcheson — is explicitly utilitarian when it comes to action choice.|
|Utilitarian happiness is the biggest happiness which supposetly every human being looks for.|
|Such a person will make good moral decisions on their own without the need for abstract moral rules.|
He also notes that, contrary to what its critics might say, there is "no known Epicurean theory of life which does not assign to the pleasures of the intellect… a much higher value as pleasures than to those of mere sensation. The accusation that hedonism is "doctrine worthy only of swine" has a long history.
In Nicomachean Ethics Book 1 Chapter 5Aristotle says that identifying the good with pleasure is to prefer a life suitable for beasts.
Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is solely determined by its contribution to overall utility in maximizing happiness or pleasure as summed among all people. It is, then, the total utility of individuals which is important here, the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Utilitarianism joins a very long tradition of thought which goes back, to China, from Mo-Tseu for example, and in Greek philosophy, from, essentially, Aristotle and Epicurus. Jan 23, · In any case, Kant’s view and utilitarianism presuppose a distinction between right and wrong, whereas a philosophy like Nietzsche’s immoralism would dispense with this distinction.
The theological utilitarians had the option of grounding their pursuit of happiness in the will of God; the hedonistic utilitarians needed a different defence. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question…  Mill argues that if people who are "competently acquainted" with two pleasures show a decided preference for one even if it be accompanied by more discontent and "would not resign it for any quantity of the other", then it is legitimate to regard that pleasure as being superior in quality.
Mill recognizes that these "competent judges" will not always agree, and states that, in cases of disagreement, the judgment of the majority is to be accepted as final.
Mill also acknowledges that "many who are capable of the higher pleasures, occasionally, under the influence of temptation, postpone them to the lower.John Stuart Mill (–) was the most famous and influential British philosopher of the nineteenth century.
He was one of the last systematic philosophers, making significant contributions in logic, metaphysics, epistemology, . Rule-utilitarianism-- The principle of utility is used to determine the validity of rules of conduct (moral principles). A rule like promise-keeping is established by looking at the consequences of a world in which people broke promises at will and a world in which promises were binding.
Act utilitarianism is a utilitarian theory of ethics which states that a person's act is morally right if and only if it produces at least as much happiness as any other act that the person could perform at that time.
Utilitarianism — a philosophy suitable only for a nation of shopkeepers! (Friedrich Nietzsche) The German philosopher Nietzsche was a strong defender of virtue ethics (though scholars still disagree on exactly what his moral philosophy was).
Utilitarianism is one of the most powerful and persuasive approaches to normative ethics in the history of philosophy. Though not fully articulated until the 19 th century, proto-utilitarian positions can be discerned throughout the history of ethical theory.
Henry Sidgwick's (–) The Methods of Ethics () is one of the most well known works in utilitarian moral philosophy, and deservedly so. It offers a defense of utilitarianism, though some writers (Schneewind ) have argued that it should not primarily be read as a defense of utilitarianism.