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Utility and DemocracyThe Political Thought of Jeremy Bentham$
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Philip Schofield

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208563

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208563.001.0001

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The Principle of Utility

The Principle of Utility

Chapter:
(p.28) 2 The Principle of Utility
Source:
Utility and Democracy
Author(s):

Philip Schofield (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208563.003.0002

In contrast to most recent scholarship, which attempts to divorce Bentham’s psychology from his ethics, this chapter shows how they were conceptually related through the sensations of pleasure and pain. The phrase ‘principle of utility’, by which Bentham denominated his standard of morality, represented the name of a fictitious entity. The real entities into which it could be resolved were the pains and pleasures experienced by sentient creatures. Individuals were, by nature, motivated to increase their pleasure and to avoid pain. Their actions were right or good, and therefore worthy of approval, in so far as they increased the pleasure or averted the pain, in other words contributed to the happiness, of all those who were affected by them.

Keywords:   utilitarianism, psychology, ethics, pleasure, pain, entities, motivation, right and wrong, good and evil, happiness

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