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. Both Bentham and Mill forwarded a belief in the intrinsic nature of value; thus good or the lack thereof could be regarded as inherent in an act or thing—a concept that allowed for the mathematical calculation of utility.
An understanding of this topic could prove useful to IB philosophy students taking ethics as one of their chosen options.
I am focusing here on the nature of utilitarianism and am not considering its weaknesses. These will be looked at in a separate post. Utilitarianism is a moral theory generally considered to have been founded by Jeremy Bentham, a 19th century English philosopher and social reformer.
It is centred around the concept of happiness, and seeks to promote it. The idea here is that all people seek happiness, and that it is the ultimate goal of all human beings to be happy. Therefore, according to classical utilitarianism, when a person wishes to act in an ethically sound manner he or she should strive to bring about the greatest possible amount of happiness for the greatest possible amount of people.
This is known as the greatest happiness principle. Another, similar idea is that a person should always strive, if incapable of producing happiness, to reduce unhappiness.
Imagine that the neighbour is desperate to find someone to exercise his canine companion, while your friends are fully capable of enjoying themselves without you. His ideas here are, really, quite simple. Naturally, it follows from this that he also felt that we should treat unhappiness as something consisting of pain.
This view on happiness has led his particular brand of utilitarianism to be seen as a hedonistic theory. Furthermore, Bentham did not distinguish between different forms of pleasure.
To him, anything that gave rise to happiness — be it drugs or reading — was fundamentally good. According to Mill, these latter pleasures are of a greater quality, and should therefore be considered more important.
He posited that someone who has experienced both forms of pleasure would naturally feel inclined to choose the higher pleasures.
This is a fairly straightforward exploration of the most common forms of utilitarianism.John Stuart Mill believed in an ethical theory known as utilitarianism and his theory is based on the principle of giving the greatest happiness to greatest number of .
This is called the “greatest happiness principle”(Wikipedia, Feb, 11,). Now this is the main idea of utilitarianism, but it does branch out in the different direction due to many philosophers that thought of this theory.
Utilitarianism: The Greatest Happiness Principle Essay - Utilitarianism was first brought up along the nourishing of “The Greatest Happiness Principle” introduced by Jeremy Bentham and further developed by John Stuart Mill, who was a follower of Bentham (Sweet, ).
One of the most dominant moral theories in the study of philosophy is utilitarianism.
This theory purports that the most appropriate moral action should be the one that capitalizes on maximizing utility. This is called the “greatest happiness principle”(Wikipedia, Feb, 11,).
Now this is the main idea of utilitarianism, but it does branch out in the different direction .
AKA the Greatest Happiness Principle Utilitarianism A theory based on the principle that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness, where happiness is pleasure and the absence of pain.