• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

ExplainJ.S. Mills version of utilitarianism.

Extracts from this document...


Explain J.S. Mills version of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is sometimes referred to as the "theory of usefulness" after the Latin root word utilis meaning useful. David Hume, a Scottish Philosopher first introduced the idea of "utility" into ethics, but he is not considered to be a utilitarian. Utilitarianism is usually associated with the quote, "the greatest happiness for the greatest number." this phrase was first coined by Francis Hutcheson in his book an inquiry into the original of our ideas of beauty and virtue, however he too is not regarded as a utilitarian in the strict sense. Utilitarianism is a Teleogical ethical theory, this means it concentrates on the consequences of the actions and not the actions themselves. Jeremy Bentham's desires to improve social conditions of the masses lead him to articulate his theory of Utilitarianism. ...read more.


He thought that the Hedonic calculus was too vague. Mill tried to define pleasure more carefully, he agreed that pleasure is important but he also thought that the quality of the pleasure rather than the quantity of the pleasure is of more importance. He decided that there were two different types of pleasure. He named them the higher and the lower pleasures and thought that they were intrinsically linked to each other. He said that lower pleasures are to do with the body, food and sex for example and higher pleasures are to do with the mind, mental cultural and spiritual. He also thought that "many, who are capable of the higher pleasures, postpone them to the lower." You have to attend to the lower pleasure before you can enjoy the higher. ...read more.


lying of course is not going to create happiness but the death of someone and many others would cause more pain than the lie. Another example could be the choice to only save one person, there is your son or someone who can cure cancer. If you use the Utilitarian principle you should save the doctor who can save many more lives and create more happiness but, also you would have to take into consideration the life of your son and your own happiness and the happiness of your family. In this situation almost all of us would save the life of our son rather than a person who we do not know. Mill recognised this and came up with the idea of weak rule utilitarianism to explain why this happens. Mill is often regarded as more realistic about human nature than Bentham. Kirsty Densham 12.5 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Political Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Political Philosophy essays

  1. Advantages and disadvantages of utilitarianism

    the woman's and, as they are the majority, the woman's pain would not matter. Similarly the theory cannot be used to determine what is universally good. Under Bentham's theory it would be possible to justify acts of sadism or torture, no matter how perverse the pleasure carried out.

  2. How and why does Locke explain the creation, value and protection of property?

    With the advent of money as unspoilable property, certain inequalities amoungst men would develop. Those with less start to feel cheated and used. This is very dangerous for those with more, because with these inequalities, comes the danger of theft, or injury to property or body.

  1. Socialist uses of workers' inquiry

    of Marx and Engels' tradition, a mistrust of sociology is perfectly understandable in principle: if we were to accept this version of Marxism, no science of social facts would be possible. However, we need to insist on a specific trait of Marxist sociology that emerges from the critique of political

  2. John Stuart Mill was the son of a philosopher who worked with Jeremy Bentham. ...

    Bentham's theory states that an action that will produce the most happiness is the justified decision, using the hedonic calculus, and does not allow for the action to be morally inexcusable. The example of this would be the sadistic guards who enjoy torturing a prisoner, which would be producing happiness

  1. Year 12 Essay On Utilitarianism

    This should make it clear how beneficial the greatest good for the greatest number is. An example could be "A car is on fire. Inside the car is a doctor with the cure to cancer and your own child and you can only save one."

  2. Notes on John Stuart Mill's On Liberty

    The Harm Principle: This is the central tenant of Mill's political theory. Why a principle is needed: Mill's theory begins with the observation that a tyranny of the majority is a dangerous and bad thing that must be guarded against.

  1. Does J.S.Mill abandon Utilitarianism?

    However there were some specific ideas that Mill objected to. One of these ideas was the way in which Bentham believed that pleasure was the be all and end all of life, that you couldn't feel anything better than physical pleasure.

  2. Explain Bentham's version of Utilitarianism.

    diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing in other words, to promote or to oppose that happiness. I say of every action whatsoever; and therefore not, only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government.'

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work