Bentham’s Principle Of Utility And Its Shortcomings As The Sole Basis For Morality

2018 words - 8 pages

Jeremy Bentham in his book, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, is trying to create an ethical system that he believes ought to be the basis for all decision making. He states that “As to ethics in general, a man’s happiness will depend, in the first place, upon such parts of his behavior as none but himself are interested in ; in the next place, upon such parts of it as may affect the happiness of those about him” (Bentham pg. 312). Bentham believes that we need to create a society in which there is a balance of both self and other regarding behavior, in order to create a society that maximizes happiness while minimizing pain. Bentham introduces the principle of utility as a basis for morality as its concern is maximizing utility for the group. He also asserts that all other principles are not apt as the basis for morality for different reasons. He sees the principle of utility as one that should guide our actions in both the private and public spheres of life. Throughout his work, Jeremy Bentham argues that the principle of utility is the only legitimate basis for morality, but ultimately fails in showing that this principle is sufficient to create a moral society on its own.
Bentham argues that the principle of utility is the only viable basis for morality. He begins his writing in stating that, “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” (Bentham pg. 1). For humans, there is a natural tendency towards pleasure, which at the same time is a natural tendency away from pain. He adds, “In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire: but in reality he will remain subject to it all the while” (Bentham pg. 1). While one may say that he is not motivated in his actions by pleasure and pain, in reality he cannot escape the control of these powerful impulses. Thus, it is necessary for pain and pleasure to be the main considerations as the basis for morality. Bentham defines the principle of utility as “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” (Bentham pg. 2). The interest of the party is the interest of the community or “the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it” (Bentham pg. 3). Since people are naturally considering the maximization happiness and minimization of pain when deciding how to act, Bentham believes that the principle of utility is not merely a choice that people choose to abide by but instead an axiom that they are either consciously or subconsciously influenced by. For Bentham, the principle of utility is a postulate that serves as the basis for moral reasoning and is as a result something that cannot be proved. Bentham discusses the proof of the principle of utility and writes, “Is it...

Find Another Essay On Bentham’s Principle of Utility and its Shortcomings as the Sole Basis for Morality

Morality is the Basis of Life

1338 words - 5 pages Philosophy, the definition of morality is, “descriptively to refer to some codes of conduct put forward by a society…religion, or accepted by an individual for her [or his] own behavior” (n. pg.). The original definition described the over-all code of conduct—the basis of morality and the conditions of which people set their standards to—set forth by society, but was later separated into different affiliations (n. pg). Typically, people separate

Enron and its Shortcomings Essay

1041 words - 4 pages while most everyone that dealt with lost money in Enron when it collapsed the top management won out because they new what was going to happen so they sold massive amounts of shares of the company. Overall Enron didn’t solve any ethical dilemmas and they had unethical practices. Social responsibility means that a corporation should be accountable for any of its actions that people, their communities, and their environments. Enron fell victim to

Henry VIII’s Desire for a Divorce as the Sole Cause of the English Reformation

1355 words - 5 pages Henry VIII’s Desire for a Divorce as the Sole Cause of the English Reformation The English reformation is widely discussed amongst historians; it was a process that saw the removal of the longstanding Papal influence and the beginnings of a new English Church. Although Henry’s divorce with Catherine of Aragon played a significant part in provoking a reformation there were other factors that lead to the creation of the

Empathy and Commitment as the Basis for Trust

1374 words - 5 pages Empathy and Commitment as the Basis for Trust In Philoctetes by Sophocles, Odysseus commands Neoptolemos to abandon justice and base a relationship with Philoctetes on dishonesty to gain his trust and ultimately his bow. However, Neoptolemos acknowledges a similar burden plagues Philoctetes that becomes the basis of trust between them. Neoptolemos attempts to reconcile with Odysseus’ orders by stealing the bow and abandoning Philoctetes

Why Stalin Emerged as the Sole Leader of the U.S.S.R. and Not Trotsky

754 words - 3 pages Why Stalin Emerged as the Sole Leader of the U.S.S.R. and Not Trotsky Trotsky was a leading Bolshevik and played a pivotal role in the revolution, persuading Lenin to delay the revolution until the Bolshevik’s had a much stronger place in the country. He also was crucial to the civil war, as he organised the troops and motivated them. Stalin on the other hand was in charge of all the dull jobs within the Bolshevik party

Information as the Basis for Representation

2926 words - 12 pages Information as the Basis for Representation ABSTRACT: The article presents a proposal to use the notion of information and a model of its transmission for analysis of the structure and basic functions of a sign. This is to point to the relation between information and the basic function of a sign, that is, a 'representation.' A sign is understood, in accordance with Peirce's theory, as a triadic relation of representation. One of the

The Flaws and Shortcomings of African Historiography

5019 words - 20 pages The Flaws and Shortcomings of African Historiography History is formed through a combination of personal experiences, psychological state, personal objectives, relation with the interviewer, position in society and many other factors that cannot be scientifically monitored and accounted for. Thus, no historian has been able to filter through the many layers they need to in order to arrive at an accurate account of history. What “personal

Comparing the Utility of Bentham and Mill

2032 words - 8 pages “rule”. An act utilitarian uses thought processes associated with utilitarianism (i.e. the principle of utility) to make all decisions, this requires a lot of thought and careful calculation. For example, an act utilitarian deciding from a list of possible day trips would sit down and calculate out the utility of each possible decision before coming to a conclusion as to which one was preferable. Contrary to an act utilitarian, a rule

The Economic Basis of Slavery and its Impact on the Emergence of the United States

598 words - 2 pages free economic system and to produce large amounts of good crops turned to buying slaves to increase their productivity. If they paid good wages to numerous workers the plantation owners would not be able to make money. Slaves were seen as dependable, very strong physically, and cheap.Along with the growth of plantations, the capitalistic frame of mind during the time and increased industrialization in Europe with its demand for products from the

Man Bites Man: on the Goodness and Shortcomings of Anthropos.

1300 words - 5 pages Man Bites Man: On the Goodness and Shortcomings of AnthroposThe question of whether humanity itself is evil or not is one of the most fundamentalaspects to any cultural world view, and at best a very divisive one. The two majorrepresentatives of this conflict within Christianity and in recent Western culture as a wholewere Pelagius and Augustine. The former of these two thinkers advocated a world-viewfeaturing man as capable of manufacturing for

The Shortcomings of Standardized Testing

1916 words - 8 pages institution and reviews their performance and understanding of key concepts. However, this fails to take into account different environments and their influence on the students’ performances. As a result, standardized tests should be specialized to the environment of the learners and the educators. According to Ravitch’s article, she changed her mind on the effectiveness of standardized tests four years after advocating for its use in the public

Similar Essays

The Morality And Utility Of Artificial Intelligence

4503 words - 18 pages as the ability to act on intuition or the propensity to learn through experience. With a definitive, though perhaps incomplete, basis of the constituents of intelligence, it is reasonable now to turn to the debate surrounding the utility and morality of Artificial Intelligence. John R. Searle, a celebrated philosopher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, believes the entire concept of AI to be incoherent. Searle, in his paper

Human Freedom As The Basis Of Morality.

1258 words - 5 pages satisfaction. However, what people seek from the experiences with these objects, their expectations are different from each other. Thus, such principles, which presuppose an object, cannot be universally binding. If morality is based on such principle, it would differ among people and wills of people would contradict. Thus, knowledge-oriented experience cannot be a basis for our feeling of obligation. According to Kant, to gain knowledge we have to

Justice As Fairness Versus The Principle Of Average Utility. On John Rawl's Statement.

2418 words - 10 pages the single set of aims for the society is the benefit of the least advantaged.In the OP the veil of ignorance excludes specific knowledge of one's identity and therefore it is unknown what position one will have in society. When combined with the difference principle the veil of ignorance creates an excellent example of pure procedural justice as Rawls claims. At its core the theory is simply an example of fair distribution analogous with the one

Transcendentalism: The Basis Of Morality Essay

1171 words - 5 pages are these rights that they raise the question of what, if anything, the state and its officials may do."(Wilson, "The Biological Basis of Morality"). A transcendentalist belief, you could say, played a major role in American history. Government officials who were transcendentalists helped pass amendments for equality. For example, the freedom of slaves and the rights for blacks to vote. Eventually as America progressed even further then the