The Prinicple Of Utility Essay

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The Principle of Utility A.

There are two main people that talked about the principles of utility and they were Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. First off I’ll talk to you about Mr. Bentham. It is helpful to see Bentham’s moral philosophy in the context of his political philosophy, his attempt to find a rational approach to law and legislative action. He argued against “natural law” theory and thought that the classical theories of Plato and Aristotle as well as notions such as Kant’s Categorical Imperative were too outdated, confusing and/or controversial to be of much help with society’s ills and a program of social reform. He adopted what he took to be a simple and ‘scientific’ approach to
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But in matters of “private morality” such as sexual preference and private behavior, Bentham felt that it was not at all useful to involve the legislature.
     Bentham also thought that the principle of utility could apply to our treatment of animals. The question is not whether they can talk or reason, but whether they can suffer. As such, that suffering should be taken into account in our treatment of them. Here we can see a moral ground for laws that aim at the “prevention of cruelty to animals” (and such cruelty was often witnessed in Bentham’s day.) (Cavalier)

John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873)

“It is better to be a human being dissatisfied that a pig satisfied;
      better Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.”

     For Mill, it is not the quantity of pleasure, but the quality of happiness. Bentham’s calculus is unreasonable – qualities cannot be quantified (there is a distinction between ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ pleasures). Mill’s utilitarianism culminates in “The Greatest Happiness Principle.”(Cavalier)
     If I am asked what I mean by difference of quality in pleasures, or what one pleasure more valuable than another, merely as a pleasure, except its being greater in amount, there is but one possible answer. Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both

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