What Is the Difference Between Mill’s Qualitative Hedonism and Bentham’s Quantitative Hedonism? Which Is More Plausible as a Theory of Well-Being?

Topics: Utilitarianism, Hedonism, Happiness, Pleasure, Ethics / Pages: 8 (1836 words) / Published: May 7th, 2013
What is the difference between Mill’s qualitative hedonism and Bentham’s quantitative hedonism? Which is more plausible as a theory of well-being?
Hedonism is the idea that well-being of people comes about through pleasure. Pure hedonism is the thought that it arises through and only through pleasure and both Bentham and Mill advocate different approaches for which hedonism may be the basis of human well-being. Both Philosophers then go on to construct theories of morality on the basis of this idea such that what should be maximised in a moral dilemma is the cumulative welfare of all individuals as measured by their particular approach for deciphering which course of action will yield the most well-being for all. However, the focus of this essay is towards the distinctions between how the philosophers determine well-being and to what extent their theories are plausible thus their argument for morality will not be focussed on in this essay.
Firstly, I must address the differences between Mill’s and Bentham’s ideas on hedonism. Both philosophers advocate the idea that pleasure, coupled with the avoidance of pain is the sole means by which people can increase their well-being. Their views on how to do as much differ significantly in theory although, as pointed out by Smart, not necessarily in practice. Jeremy Bentham believed that all pleasures were of equal quality and thus it was purely the quantity of the pleasure, as measured predominantly by intensity and duration, which determined which action would yield the most well-being. In Bentham’s view, well-being is purely experiential: our pleasurable experiences increase our well-being in proportion to how pleasurable the experience was. In this view, poetry is just as good as push-pin if the pleasure produced from each was of the same duration and intensity. Thus, Bentham advocated a cardinal view of measuring well-being where the pleasure and pain of particular actions were measured in standard units of pleasure

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