Is the 'Philosophy of Swine' Objection a Telling Criticism of Utilitarian Theory?

Topics: John Stuart Mill, Political philosophy, Utilitarianism Pages: 4 (1297 words) Published: April 21, 2013
“Is the ‘philosophy of swine’ objection a telling criticism of Utilitarian theory? Why or why not?”

Philosophy of swine. This was mentioned by Mill criticizing Bentham’s utilitarianism. Before looking at Mill’s criticism, historical background of the birth of utilitarianism should be discussed ahead. Utilitarianism arose in the Industrial Revolution period. As nations became industrialized in the eighteenth century, bourgeois: an industrial middle class, appeared demanding new political and economic theory which would support their own interests. In the economic sphere, Adam Smith introduced laissez-faire theory following new era’s request. However, political theory was still remaining at social contract theory of the seventeenth century. Especially, as Britain was enjoying its period of political and constitutional stability after the Glorious Revolution, social contract theory which explains legitimacy of a government didn’t attract people’s attention any more. Going through the social fluctuations, Bentham came up with an idea called ‘utilitarianism’. Bentham’s theory was remarkably progressive that he was considered as philosophical radicals. In accordance with the bourgeois’ demand for theory appropriate to those days, Bentham’s utilitarianism was based on a very simple premise; every man pursues happiness. A single behavior is determined to be moral or not by whether it creates happiness. This makes utilitarianism solely focus on the consequence of the act. Bentham also insists that every choice should be made toward the maximization of utility. Regarding making political decisions, we should follow the policy that yields ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’. However, Bentham’s theory is denounced by Mill, because it doesn’t acknowledge the objective standard of values. When Bentham deals with the happiness, that only count is the total aggregation of the amount of happiness. The standard and quality of the pleasure is totally...
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