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Jeremy Bentham’s Utilitarianism Theory

If we analyzed then we come to know that Bentham not only projected lots of legal and societal improvement, but also explain an ethical principle on which they ought to be based. This philosophy, utilitarianism, argued that the right act or policy was that which would reason “the utmost contentment of the furthermost number” an expression of which he is usually, while incorrectly, regarded as the author although he afterward dropped the second qualification and squeeze what he called “the greatest happiness principle,” frequently referred to as the principle of utility.

He inscribes that: “Nature has placed mankind beneath the governance of two autonomous masters, pain and happiness. It is for them alone to point out what we must to do, as well as to choose what we shall do. On the one hand the normal of right and wrong, on the further the chain of causes and effects, are fixed firmly to their throne. They administrate us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think… ” (Chp. I, p. 1, the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 1789).

He accredited his theory to Joseph Priestley: “Priestley was the primary (except it was Beccaria) who trained my lips to articulate this sacred truth: – That the most happiness of the utmost number is the groundwork of morals and legislation. ” (Cipolla, Benedicta, 2006) He also suggested a procedure for estimating the moral status of any action, which he called the Hedonic or felicific calculus. Utilitarianism was revised and expanded by Bentham’s student, John Stuart Mill. In Mill’s hands, “Benthamism” became a major element in the liberal conception of state policy objectives (Rawls, 1999).

It is often said that Bentham’s theory, unlike Mill’s, faces the problem of lacking a principle of fairness embodied in a conception of justice. In “Bentham and the Common Law Tradition” Gerald J. Postema states. “No moral concept suffers more at Bentham’s hand than the concept of justice. There is no sustained, mature analysis of the notion … ” (“ibid”, p. 148). Thus, some critics object, it would be moral, for example, to torture one person if this would produce an amount of happiness in other people outweighing the unhappiness of the tortured individual.

(Compare “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”. ) However, as P. J. Kelly argued in his book Utilitarianism and Distributive Justice: Jeremy Bentham and the Civil Law, Bentham had a theory of justice that prevented such consequences. According to Kelly, for Bentham the law “provides the basic framework of social interaction by delimiting spheres of personal inviolability within which individuals can form and pursue their own conceptions of well-being. ” (ibid, p. 81) They provide security, a precondition for the formation of expectations.

As the hedonic calculus shows “expectation utilities” to be much higher than natural ones, it follows that Bentham does not favor the sacrifice of a few to the benefit of the many (John Hill Burton, 3-83). If we analyzed then we come to know that Jeremy Bentham was an originator of Utilitarianism just put, the philosophy that an ethical act is one which create the utmost happiness for the best number of people. He summarizes this theory in his 1789 work, overture to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.

Bentham’s viewpoint made him a vocal opponent of lots of legal and political institutions, and he was well thought-out quite essential for his day. (He was chiefly critical of Sir William Blackstone, writer of Blackstone’s Commentaries and the mainly renowned English legal mind of that era. ) Bentham also is identified for an odd demand in his will: he prearranged that his remains be sealed and kept in a box, to be exhibit on event to friends and followers.

This “auto-icon,” suitably dressed in Bentham’s own clothes, is kept in a particular cabinet at University College London to this day (Jacobson Daniel, 2006). According to the expert analysis Utilitarianism was modify and prolonged by Bentham’s further famed disciple, John Stuart Mill. In Mill’s hands, “Benthamism” became a chief part in the liberal formation of situation policy objectives. No doubt, Utilitarianism has been abandoned as an ethical philosophy in up to date day society, but carry on to live on in two key areas, in the interpretation of daily life and in neoclassical financial side.

Classical financial theory is originated on Bentham’s thoughts, where the riotous nature of the entity as a pleasure-seeking and pain-avoiding personage (aka consumer) remainder tolerant and unaffected by religion, attitude, moral or civilization. Further euphemistically sounding but not less hedonistically in personality is Adam Smith’s reasonable man (J. H. Burns, J. R. Dinwiddy, F. Rosen, 2006). Moreover, at the heart of financial hypothesis is homo economicus, the economist’s model of human behavior.

In customary traditional financial side and in neo-classical finances it was assumed that people acted (only and always) in their own self-interest. Adam smith argued that society was made enhanced off by everybody pursuing their self-centered interests throughout the workings of the imperceptible hand, meaning the aptitude of the free market to assign factors of production, supplies and services to their the majority precious use, everybody acting from self-interest, spurred on by the profit reason (John Bowring, 1838-43).


Alan Ryan, Properly and Political Theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984), 100-102. John H. Burton, Introduction to the Study of the Works of Jeremy Bentham, 3-83. Jacobson Daniel, Utilitarianism without consequentialism: The case of John Stuart Mill, Bowling Green State University, retrieved on November 5, 2006 from http://www. bgsu. edu/departments/phil/faculty/jacobson/UwC_revision. doc.

Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789), revised edition published in 1907, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Jeremy Bentham, Pannomial Fragments, in the Works of Jeremy 8entham, ed. John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-43), vol. III, 230. Joseph Stiglitz, “Utilitarianism and Horizontal Equity: The Case for Random Taxation,” Journal of Public Economics 21 (2002): 257-94. Kelly, P. J. (1990). Utilitarianism and Distributive Justice: Jeremy Bentham and the Civil Law. Oxford.

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