An understanding of this topic could prove useful to IB philosophy students taking ethics as one of their chosen options. I am focusing here on the nature of utilitarianism and am not considering its weaknesses. These will be looked at in a separate post. Utilitarianism is a moral theory generally considered to have been founded by Jeremy Bentham, a 19th century English philosopher and social reformer.
The basic principle of Utilitarianism involves a calculus of happiness, in which actions are deemed to be good if they tend to produce happiness in the form of pleasure and evil if they tend to promote pain. As such, the philosophy is said to derive from the classical concept of hedonism, which values the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain.
The sophisticated system proposed by Bentham and later expanded by John Stuart Mill and others regards not only the end product of happiness, or utility, in actions, but also considers the motives of actions and the extent to which happiness can be created not only for the individual, but also for the members of society as a whole.
Both Bentham and Mill forwarded a belief in the intrinsic nature of value; thus good or the lack thereof could be regarded as inherent in an act or thing—a concept that allowed for the mathematical calculation of utility.
Beginning from this view, the Utilitarians created systems of moral behavior as standards for how an individual ought to act in society. While Bentham modified this concept over time, critics acknowledge that its essence remains intact throughout his work.
Bentham developed this principle throughout a number of writings, including his most significant work of moral philosophy, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation 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.
In this work, Bentham also sought to specifically record the sources of pleasure and pain, as well as to create a scale upon which the relative effects of individual acts in producing happiness or misery could be examined.
Notable among the Utilitarians to follow Bentham, the philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill made considerable contributions to Utilitarian philosophy, beginning with his succinct apologia for the doctrine in Utilitarianism The essay displays Mill's emphasis on rational calculation as the means by which human beings strive toward personal happiness.
Mill's remaining philosophical writings elucidate his Utilitarianism, especially in regard to a number of related practical issues, including women's suffrage, and legislative and educational reform. Following his death, Mill's system was later expanded by his disciple Henry Sidgwick, who in his Methods of Ethics discussed the means by which individuals may endeavor to achieve moral action through reasoned behavior.
Numerous other individuals contributed to the Utilitarian movement in the nineteenth century, including the British philosophers John Austin and James Mill J. In theory and in practice, Utilitarianism has continued to be influential, with the work of Bentham and Mill proving to be of the greatest importance and interest.
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. Further criticism of Bentham's and Mill's Utilitarianism has focused on the important concept of justice as it applies to the principles of liberty and utility advocated by both.
Additionally, critics have suggested the significant limitations of an ethical system that attempts to reduce human behavior and action to simple rational calculations of pleasure versus pain, but at the same time they acknowledge its considerable impact on nineteenth- and twentieth-century normative ethics.This paper will discuss the properties of utilitarianism and the benefits it has on society.
It will also compare utilitarianism to egoism, Kantian ethics, intuitionism and affirmative action. Utilitarianism’s overall purpose is to serve the greater majority and this paper sets out to prove that.
Essays and criticism on John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism - Critical Essays. Utilitarianism is an ethical theory proposed by Jeremy Bentham and defended by James Mill. The theory says, that all the activities should be directed towards the accomplishment of the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.
Published: Mon, 5 Dec According to John Stuart Mill (author of Utilitarianism), utility is happiness, and happiness is pleasure minus pain. Widely known as a universal hedonism, utilitarianism is “an ethical philosophy in which the most ethical acts are those which serve to increase the happiness for the most people or at the very least, decreases the suffering for the most people.”.
Utilitarianism began as a movement in ethics of the late eighteenth-century primarily associated with the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham. The basic principle of Utilitarianism involves a. Classical utilitarianism is hedonistic, it believes that happiness is the one ultimate good and unhappiness is the one ultimate evil but utilitarianism has changed slightly from this completely simpli /5(20).