Jeremy Bentham’s ethical
system is mostly about the idea of pleasure. He built it with a hedonistic
foundation which pursues physical pleasure and avoids physical pain. According
to him, the most moral acts are those which maximize pleasure and minimize
pain. This is sometimes been called the “utilitarian calculus.” An act would be
moral if it brings the greatest amount of pleasure and the least amount of
John Stuart Mill modified Bentham’s philosophy and developed it apart from
Bentham’s hedonistic foundation. Mill used the same utilitarian calculus but
instead, he focused on maximizing the general happiness by calculating the
greatest good for the greatest number. Mill used this calculus in a qualitative
sense unlike Bentham who uses it in a quantitative sense. For him, some
pleasures were of higher quality than others. 2
According to Mill, to
calculate what is right, it is necessary to compare the consequences of any
action to be done. If the results brought negative effects to many, then it is
not right. It can only be considered as right if all benefits from it.
so popular because it has a good deal of sense and seems and simple to apply.
It focused on results rather than rules. So, if the result is accepted by many,
but not in a bad way there is no need to focus on the rules. But remember, even
if you have a good intention and you do it in bad way, there is no good in it.
Like the story of Robinhood. He steals from the nobles or elites and gives them
to the poor. Although he has good intention to help the poor, he did it in a
bad way so it is not considered greatest good for the greatest number. So it is
important to have a good intention and right means to do it so that all will
benefit and you can consider that as the greatest good for the greatest number.
K. Utilitarianism: The Greatest Good for
the Greatest Number.