Jeremy Bentham Quotes (Author of The Principles of Morals and Legislation)
Jeremy Bentham on Pleasure, Pain, and Utility - Philosophy Core Concepts
Jeremy Bentham – On the Principle of Utility
Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher and political radical. He is primarily known today for his moral philosophy , especially his principle of utilitarianism, which evaluates actions based upon their consequences. The relevant consequences, in particular, are the overall happiness created for everyone affected by the action. Influenced by many enlightenment thinkers, especially empiricists such as John Locke and David Hume , Bentham developed an ethical theory grounded in a largely empiricist account of human nature. He famously held a hedonistic account of both motivation and value according to which what is fundamentally valuable and what ultimately motivates us is pleasure and pain.
The principle of utility states that actions or behaviors are right in so far as they promote happiness or pleasure , wrong as they tend to produce unhappiness or pain. Hence, utility is a teleological principle. This once again raises some of the same basic issues of associated with hedonism, as discussed in the earlier section on Teleological Theories. Recall that a hedonist believes that the good life consists solely in the pursuit and experience of pleasure or happiness. The feelings of pleasure and pain are biological events involving our central nervous system, which are controlled by our cerebral cortex. We obviously experience pleasure when we perform certain acts that fulfill biological functions such as eating, drinking, and having sex.
Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it. In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire: but in reality he will remain subject to it all the while.
Utilitarianism is a family of consequentialist ethical theories that promotes actions that maximize happiness and well-being for the majority of a population. For instance, Jeremy Bentham , the founder of utilitarianism, described utility as. Utilitarianism is a version of consequentialism, which states that the consequences of any action are the only standard of right and wrong. Unlike other forms of consequentialism, such as egoism and altruism , utilitarianism considers the interests of all beings equally. Proponents of utilitarianism have disagreed on a number of points, such as whether actions should be chosen based on their likely results act utilitarianism or whether agents should conform to rules that maximize utility rule utilitarianism.