"Nature has placed
mankind under the
governance of two
pleasure and pain"
"It is for them alone to point out what we
ought to do as well as to determine what
we shall do"
Bentham believed that human
beings are motivated by
pleasure and pain.
Bentham believed that
pleasure is the ultimate
All humans pursue pleasure and seek to
avoid pain. Pleasure is the sole good and
pain is the sole evil
The hedonic calculus
The hedonic calculus is a
quantitive assessment of a
We should bear in mind how distant
the anticipated benefits of each possible
course of action are. The more distant the
beenfits the less weight we should give
them in making our decision.
The likelihood that the pleasure or pain
will be followed by more pleasure or pain .
Whether the pleasure or pain is followed
by more pleasure or pain should effect
Longer lasting pleasure is
preferred over pleasure only
lasting a short period of time.
The probability of the pleasure
resulting from the act.Will it
definitely bring pleasure of only
possibly bring pleasure.
The more people that enjoy
the pleasure the better.
Mild pleasure is less valuabale than
intense pleasure. Acts leading to the
latter are preferred to the former acts.
An act that causes only pleasure is better
than one that causes the same amount of
pleasure mixed with a little pain.
To calculate the greatest happiness for the
greatest number, you will need to determine
and predict the amount of happiness that will be
produced from each action. From this
calculation you can then determine which
action to take as the one that creates the most
happiness is the right one. The way in which a
utilitarian would calculate this would be to use
the following categories.
Principle of utility
Bentham believed that the
rightness or wrongness of an
action was judged by its utility or
usefulness to produce pleasure.
The act that produces the most
happiness is the most moral.
Mill was heavily influenced by
Bentham from an early age.
Mill has been linked to the
creation of modern feminism
Mill is considered one of the greatest and
the most influential British philosopher of
the nineteenth century.
Mill adjusted Bentham's
theory of utilitarianism
Mill believed that the
well-being of an
heightened when the
individual is able to
pursue their own end.
Mill believed that the well-being
of any one person was the most
important deciding factor in any
Quality over quantity
Distinguishes the difference between higher and lower
pleasures. That some pleasures were worth more than others.
Pleasures of the mind were more valuable then pleasures of the
Mill believed that gaining a higher
pleasure should be considered better
than one without even if the person
gained some sadness from the action
"It is better to be a human being
dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.
Better to be socrates dissatisfied
then a fool satisfied "
"Human beings have more than
animal desires and once we
know that we do not regard
anything as true happiness that
include satisfaction of those
Strengths and weaknesses
of Mill's Utilitarianism
It takes the situation into account
while still maximising the
importance of the individual.
Mill's utilitarianism is supported by christrian believes.
The idea of higher and lower pleasures
gives more justification
The idea of pleasure and pain is subjective.
Not everyone is capable of determining the
probability of consequences of actions.
There is no strict definitiion of what higher and lower pleasures are.
Strengths and weaknesses of
It is impractical to suggest
that we have time to
deliberate and apply the
calculus to every situation
we come across especially
as we may not have the full
It is intuitively correct becuase
common sense dictates that all
situations are not identical and
sometimes a different approach is
Bentham created the principle of
utility as a method of social reform.
It is a way of testing a law for its
utility for human kind. If it does not
meet the goals of a human then
Bentham argued the law should be
It takes into account cultural
diversity. Each culture is allowed to
operate equally and in parallel
without one being considered more
superior than the other.
It seeks to
maximise a human
goal, its basis is
humanity and does
not seek authority
Act, Rule and Preference
An act utilitarian would want to decide what
action would lead to the greatest good and
apply the principle of utility directly.
strengths of act
There is the potential to
justify any act.
It is difficult to predict
the consequences .
Act utilitarianism can be
The hedonic calclus is clearly
structured and culturally relative.
A rule utilitarian would
judge the action by the
good-ness or badness of the
action for everyone involved.
Strengths and weaknesses
of rule utilitarianism
Encourages people to be
kinder to produce
to aim for higher
There is no clear
Rule utilitarianism does
not look into an individuals
A preference utilitarian judges actions
on being morally right or wrong
according to whether or not it fits to
preferences of all involved.
Strengths and weaknesses of preference utilitarianism
Allows a person to make a
Choices do not be effected by others opinions.
Som people are
incapable of making
their own decisions.
There are no set guidelines
that can be followed
The individuals decision may
not benefit the mass.
Singer is an Australian philosophy. He was one of the
main theorists in bringing about the newest form of
utilitarianism, preference utilitarianism.
R.M Hare was an English philosophy. He along with Singer was
one of the main theorists in creating preference utilitarianism.
Bentham worked on
legal reforms and wrote
the principles of morals
and legislations in 1789
Born in London at a
time of great
scientific and social
Demands were being made for greater
democracy and better human rights.
Founder of utilitarianism - the
greatest happiness principle