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The Utilitarian Philosophies Of Jeremy Bentham And John Stuart Mill.

2070 words - 8 pages

Compare and contrast the utilitarian philosophies of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Which do you think is the more convincing moral theory, and why?In terms of Utilitarianism, this assignment shall outline the philosophies of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. It shall firstly illustrate the ideas of Bentham and then follow on to compare and contrast those of Mill. To continue, the assignment will view the failing qualities in both the men's works. Bentham did leave a great deal unsaid in his work yet the fact that he allowed for individuality to be applied to his theory shall be revealed. To a large extent, the work of Mill was deeply valuable to the theory of Utilitarianism; however a number of aspects cannot be applied to all cases. Mill asserted his own preconceptions into his theory so that it could not always be found applicable. In consideration of these points I will explain why I believe Bentham's theory to be more convincing, or rather more appropriate.Bentham preached that 'an act is morally right if it produces the greatest balance of pleasure (happiness) over pain' (Khan, 2002, online: www.jeromekahn123.tripod.com/utilitarianismtheethicaltheoryofalltimes/id4.html). He wrote a poem so as to make methods in decision making easy to remember;'Intense, long, certain, speedy, fruitful, pure -Such marks in pleasures and in pains endureSuch pleasures seek if private be they endIf it be public, wide let them extendSuch pains avoid, whatever be they viewIf pains come, let them extend to few.'(Bentham cited in Shimomisse, 1999, online: www.csudh.edu/phenom_studies/ethics/lect_3.htm).By this poem Bentham describes different factors that are important in decision making. By 'intensity' he means the intensity of the pleasure or pain that an action may cause, by 'long'; the duration through which that pleasure or pain exceeds. In quoting 'certainty' he denotes the certainty or uncertainty experienced in the decision making, by 'speedy'; the convenience or inaccessibility of options when the action is to be made. 'Fruitful' indicates the tendency of the action to create a chain reaction of other pleasures or pains. The result of an action may release one from pain or may enforce pleasure. A motivation for happiness may put one in pain, yet is seen to be worthwhile. He also refers to the fact that a pain may be worthwhile if it is to release one from other pains. Finally pure signifies the number of persons affected by which degree of pleasure or pain in result of the action (Shimomisse, 1999, online: www.csudh.edu/phenom_studies/ethics/lect_3.htm). Putting oneself in the result of a pain may be worthwhile if it is to do good for another; this may be seen as a noble quality but is not necessarily expected of a person.Bentham's philosophy was that each man ultimately wants to be happy and so, in taking each of these factors into account, the result should be aiming towards an effect of happiness and that pains should be avoided (Bentham, 2002,...

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