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.
Use an editor to spell check essay. For Bentham, utilitarianism was both a descriptive and normative Essays on utiltarianism it not only described how human beings act so as to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, but it also prescribed or advocated such action.
According to the principle of utility, the cause of all human action, that which motivates human beings to act, is a desire for pleasure. Utility Or happiness is defined in terms of pleasure: Diminishing pain also means more pleasure there are twelve kinds of pain which individuals seek to avoid for instance, the pains of the senses, or of an ill name.
Not only do individuals behave in this manner, but they use the evaluative terms of good and bad to name those activities which bring them pleasure or pain.
Now this is a position as old as Hobbes. What is new with Bentham and his claim of utilitarianism being a moral theory is the advocacy of such action. What brings about pleasure is morally good, that which leads to pain is evil and should be avoided, emphasis added.
Human welfare can only be furthered if individuals maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Essays on utiltarianism early asin the Preface to the Fragment, Bentham had written: Bentham's answer to the charge of utilitarianism being, instead of a theory of morality, a theory actually of selfish psychological hedonism is that utilitarianism does not propose that one seek only one's own pleasure.
In deciding whether to act in a particular manner, one has to be impartial between one's own pleasure and that of all those affected to that act. Let us take the example of punishment if punishment is to have some utility, and to have utility is to generate happiness, then punishment is obviously not going to make the person who is being punished happy.
It will instead make others happy by making it less probable that the crime is committed again. It is true that for Bentham the community is a 'fictitious' entity nothing more than individual members constituting it. The context of one's action determines the circle of individuals affected by it.
For government officials, all the members of their state are affected by their action, so the government has to calculate the balance of pleasure and pain on a country wide scale. A private individual has to consider only the pleasures and pains of those few directly affected by his action.
Thus the government is concerned about the happiness or welfare of all its citizens, and the individual is to think of the happiness of other persons apart from himself- that is then, what makes utilitarianism a moral theory. Bentham identified four general motives for human action.
The purely social motive of benevolence moves only a few individuals. Such benevolent individuals purse the happiness of others even at the cost of their own happiness. An individual acting out of the semi-social motive of love of reputation or praise pursues others' happiness only when it promotes his own as well.
The majority of humankind act out of the social motive of self-interest, when one's own happiness is pursued, taking care not to cause others pain but not pursuing their happiness either.
Finally, there are some individuals moved by dissocial motives, who actually experience pleasure by harming others. Bentham also provided a calculus for determining the balance between pleasure and pain from any action.
According to this specific calculus, one must give a numerical value to the intensity, duration, certainty or uncertainty, and propinquity or remoteness, of the pleasures and pains of the persons affected by one's actions, and one must undertake the action only if the value of the pleasure is higher than the value of the pain.
One should also factor in the fecundity of the pleasure producing act, as well as the purity and extent of the pleasure being produced.
This means that the pleasures everyone is to count as one, and the pleasure from a worthwhile activity like writing a history of Egypt is not by definition of higher value than that from gambling with a deck of cards.
Human beings seek happiness, their own and that of others. They ought to seek happiness, their own and of others.Included: psychology essay philosophy essay content. Preview text: For Bentham, utilitarianism was both a descriptive and normative theory it not only described how human beings act so as to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, but it also prescribed or advocated .
Essay Utilitarianism: Greatest Happiness Principle - Utilitarianism, originally introduced by Jeremy Bentham and extended by John Stuart Mill, (Mark Timmons, ) is an ethical theory which states that to be good is to deliver the greatest amount of happiness to most of the people based on the consequences of the action.
Summary. Utilitarianism, by John Stuart Mill, is an essay written to provide support for the value of utilitarianism as a moral theory, and to respond to misconceptions about it.
Mill defines utilitarianism as 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.".
Home Essays Pros and Cons of Pros and Cons of Utilitarianism. Topics: Ethics. 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. Utilitarianism definition, the ethical doctrine that virtue is based on utility, and that conduct should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons.