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  • Created by: Shannon
  • Created on: 05-05-13 14:23



Principle of Utility : An action is morally right if it creates THE GREATEST HAPPINESS FOR THE GREATEST NUMBER

Jeremy Bentham:  (panopticon)

Jeremy Bentham was the founder, during the ‘age of enlightenment’ where a significant change was occurring and new scientific discoveries were happening.

"Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think ..."

Bentham was a hedonist because he believed that pain is the only evil and pleasure is the only good. He believed all people seek pleasure and avoid pain and so therefore utilitarianism was significant. The two sovereign masters are pain and pleasure.

Bentham believed that there are three main components in utilitarianism:

  • Motivation - avoidance of pain and seeking of pleasure

  • Principle Of Utility - The greatest happiness for the greatest amount of people

  • Hedonic calculus - determines how to measure pleasure and therefore the best course of action.

This is TELEOLOGICAL ethics as it focuses in the consequences of actions, that consequence must be the greatest happiness for the greatest amount of people. It is also RELATIVE as it looks at each situation individually.


Intensity: how strong is the pleasure?

Duration: how long will the pleasure last?

Certainty: how certain can you be that the pleasure will occur?

Propinquity: how soon will the pleasure occur?

Fecundity: will the action be followed by the sensation of the same kind?

Purity: will the action be followed by a sensation of another kind?

Extent: how many people will be affected?

Bentham was an Act Utilitarian because Bentham looks at each situation individually and determines whether an action will create the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people.

Problems with Bentham's theory:

  • minority is ignored

  • immoral and bad actions are justified if the majority are happy.



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