Bentham's Measurements of Pleasure and Pain

Topics: Utilitarianism, Suffering, Animal rights Pages: 2 (389 words) Published: February 28, 2012
Bentham's Measurements of Pleasure and Pain
Jeremy Bentham was a prominent British scholar and philosopher in the late 1700s. He cultivated the philosophical scheme known as utilitarianism. Utilitarianism operated according to the judgment of actions as being moral. Actions were to be looked at in a way in which one could determine whether or not they could produce happiness or pain.

In his An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, he defines the principle of utility. He states that all of mankind are naturally regulated by two forces, pleasure and pain. These two forces ultimately determine what people should and should not do according to that individual. Bentham affirms that pain and pleasure dictate our everyday actions: what we do, what we say, and even what we think.

The purpose of utility is the foundation for the utilitarian system. Its objective is to cultivate happiness by way of reason and lawfulness. Bentham asserts that this principle is the only right way of assessing actions, stating “Systems which attempt to question it, deal in sounds instead of sense, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness instead of light.” He predicates that it should be used as a way of approving or disapproving the actions of an individual or a group of individuals.

Bentham defines the term utility as any owned object that tends to give the owner any kind of positive or negativity. A utility could be positive if it produces pleasure, benefit, happiness, or goodness. In the same way, it could be negative if it causes its owner pain, sadness, or displeasure. Bentham conveys that the utility at hand could belong to an individual (thus benefiting or hindering that individual owner) or to a community (thus benefiting or hindering the community as a whole that owns it).

Bentham then goes on to define his use of the term community. He affirms that it should be defined clearly because the interest of a community as a whole is “one of the most...
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