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POL3102Notes Bentham.docx

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Political Science
Sascha Maicher

Jeremy Bentham – Principles of Legislation This was a throwback to high enlightenment thinking, it shared the themes such as optimism, faith in the natural order, and individual reason. • a scientific measure, utility was the answer • Utility was the answer for how much pleasure or pain is produced for what is right and wrong. • something is only as good as the happiness that it produces States are looking for glory and power: • various principles that guide a state are morality, liberty, justice, power, and commerce • these are all means to an end which is happiness • if the state only seeks power then it has lost sight of the most important value which is happiness individual: pleasure seeking individual, rational enough to know what is good but needs higher powers to be kept in line pleasure: 4 type of please – physical (nature), moral (hate/love), political (laws), and religious (threats/ promises) There are ways to measure the pleasure and pain that come from these four types: • intensity of pleasure • duration • certainty (likelihood of pleasure) • proximity (how long before there is payoff) • productiveness (does it produce more pleasure) • purity (downside of pleasures or upsides of pain) • extent (how many people felt it) -hard to calculate because the same act may not produce the same pleasure for everyone Bentham’s theory is egalitarian because he says that everyone’s pleasure counts for the same and that pleasure should be equally distributed • no social contract • only test of whether something is wrong is if this thing produces suffering The principle of utility provides us with a means of judging pleasures and pain based on general knowledge of what is right and wrong. Moral justification must be able to be expressed and your happiness must increase the happiness of the whole. The principle of utility will do this. Utilitarianism - John Stuart Mill Utilitarianism: • rightness or wrongness of an action determines whether it is good or bad • the only thing
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