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.
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. Utilitarianism assesses actions and institutions in terms of their effects on human happiness and enjoins us to perform actions and design institutions so that they promote—in one formulation, maximize—human happiness.
As documented in his AutobiographyMill was groomed from birth by his father to become the ultimate Victorian intellectual and utilitarian reformer. As part of this apprenticeship, Mill was exposed to an extremely demanding education, shaped by utilitarian principles.
While Mill followed the strict intellectual regimen laid down by his father for many years, he suffered a profound intellectual and emotional crisis in the period — As Mill emerged from his depression, he became more concerned with the development of well-rounded individuals and with the role of feeling, culture, and creativity in the happiness of individuals see Capaldi Though Mill never renounced the liberal and utilitarian tradition and mission that he inherited from his father, his mental crisis and recovery greatly influenced his interpretation of this tradition.
He became critical of the moral psychology of Bentham and his father and of some of the social theory underlying their plans for reform. It is arguable that Mill tends to downplay the significance of his innovations and to underestimate the intellectual discontinuities between himself and his father.
We need to try to understand the extent of the transformation Mill brings to the utilitarian and liberal principles of the Radicals. Bentham begins his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation with this hedonistic assumption about human motivation.
Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure Principles I 1. Bentham allows that we may be moved by the pleasures and pains of others. But he appears to think that these other-regarding pleasures can move us only insofar as we take pleasure in the pleasure of others V In his unfinished Constitutional CodeBentham makes this commitment to psychological egoism clear.
On the occasion of every act he exercises, every human being is led to pursue that line of conduct which, according to his view of the case, taken by him at the moment, will be in the highest degree contributory to his own greatest happiness. So the version of psychological egoism to which he is attracted is psychological hedonism.
He may see it as a generalization from his observations about the motives underlying human behavior. James Mill also treats psychological hedonism as axiomatic in his Essay on Government The desire, therefore, of that power which is necessary to render the persons and properties of human beings subservient to our pleasures, is the grand governing law of human nature.
But these concessions to psychological pluralism are exceptional. Even in contexts where Bentham recognizes motivation that is not ultimately self-interested, he appears to treat it as weaker and less dependable than self-interested motivation Book of Fallacies — Bentham claims that utility not only describes human motivation but also sets the standard of right and wrong Principles I 1.
By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question ….
Principles I 2 It remains to be determined whose happiness matters.the concepts and assumptions of utilitarianism Mots-clés: the concepts and assumptions of utilitarianism Ce sujet a 0 réponse, 1 participant et a été mis à jour par GalenNug, il y a 56 minutes.
Criticisms of Utilitarianism.
Print Reference this. Disclaimer: the first relating to practical problems in applying the utilitarian concept and the second dealing with concerns arising from the results of utilitarian analysis. under a strict utilitarian analysis, it would be justifiable to cause suffering and death to a large number.
The requirement to vaccinate children against diseases such as polio, measles, and whooping cough is an example of utilitarianism, or serving the public good, as opposed to allowing parents to opt out of vaccination based upon religious grounds. Utilitarianism holds that in the final analysis only one action is right – that action whose net benefits are greatest relative to the net benefits of all other possible alternatives.
Finally, Utilitarianism considers both immediate as well as all future costs and benefits of the action taken. The Concept of Utilitarianism. For many utilitarians, an act is right when it is useful in bringing about a good end (something with intrinsic value).
For Bentham and Mill these intrinsic goods (things every rational person values) are pleasure and happiness. 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.