Utilitarianism And John Stuart Mill

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Utilitarianism, as the name suggests, is based upon the principle of utility, more commonly known as the greatest happiness principle. John Stuart Mill, one of the founding active developers of the ethical theory, called this “the creed that considers a particular theory of life”(1). The theory, at first glance, seems to be very basic in it’s foundation. Pleasure vs. pain, good vs. evil and advantageous vs. disadvantageous. Through utilitarianism, one must equate these things with benefit or cost, consciously weighing out the total sum of the effects to see which would overcome. So what problems could possibly be found with a theory that simply focuses on happiness? This question is best answered with a thorough look at the two separate strains …show more content…
Essentially, these men were responsible for establishing a greater understanding for this principle. Both of these men had a great history of detail concerning both philosophy and politics, which would establish quite the foundation for their future status as moral and ethical theorists. In fact, Bentham, with fellow associates, created a political group crassly named the “Philosophical radicals”. Mill was a senior member of this group, which would later change their name to the more palatable “Utilitarians”. Bentham, being the earlier of the developers, was ripe for criticism from other theorists and critics, many referring to him as a hedonist. Greatly influenced by David Hume and Thomas Hobbes, Bentham’s own views were widely regarded as hedonistic, though he did heavily take in to account the extent and effect of good and/or bad on the greater populous. According to …show more content…
Mill did not quite follow Bentham’s principles of hedonism, rather heralding altruism as the established basis of moral decision.

There is one stark difference between the principles of Mill and Bentham, and that is the idea of quality of pleasure. Bentham believed the established idea that there were no qualitative differences in pleasures, only quantitative ones. Mill did in fact believe that there were more desirable and valuable kinds of pleasure than others

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