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Philosophy of Utilitarianism in Ideas of Jeremy Bentham

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Philosophy Term Paper: Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham is a famous English political radical and philosopher. Among his philosophical works, the most well-known is the concept of utilitarianism in which the acts and actions are assessed based on the potential outcomes and consequences (Stanford Encyclopedia, 2019). The most aspired result or the relevant outcome is happiness or pleasure to ensure for all and sundry in the course of action. Bentham was incredibly influenced by empiricists and enlightenment thinkers such as David Hume and John Locke, and undoubtedly it is the reason that his philosophy significantly revolves around the empiricist structure of human nature (Collard, 2006). The paper is aimed at highlighting utilitarianism theory of Bentham to explore their perspective background, key ideas, significance, and progress for a better understanding of human acts and activities.

Philosophy of Utilitarianism

Jeremey Bentham’s ideology of utilitarianism is primarily identified to ensure happiness or pleasure into the good. Happiness or joy referred to a mental state where the individual feels no pain or a situation lacking pain at all. Stuart Mill endorses the same concept (Collard, 2006). Both philosophers were hedonists in this regard because they focused on maximizing happiness or good to bring augmented value. However, the philosophical thought of Utilitarianism is well-known by agent-neutrality and fairness (Stanford Encyclopedia, 2019). There is no denying that the philosophy of Bentham helped significantly in various walks of life even in law practice. Bentham spent a significant chunk of his life in criticizing the existing system of law during his life while urging for strong legal reforms (Martin, 1997). His theory has considerably contributed toward a natural account of a legal framework based on freedom of rights and responsibilities and independence of government. It provided a strong foundation for the early legal systems to flourish through social, legal, and political utilitarianism.

A cursory view of the work done by Bentham with respect to constructing his concept of Utilitarianism, it is evident that he strived hard to combine the empirical approaches with an augmented rationalization to ensure deductive reasons and clarity of conceptualization. The influence of Locke is evident in the work of Bentham such as “Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding” in which psychological principles of associationism are used (Gustafsson, 2017). Moreover, the influence of Hume’s philosophy is relatively less observable in the principles of utility articulated by Bentham.

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Critical Analysis

Utilitarianism is referred to as the most persuasive and influential approach to normative integrity and ethics. However, various varieties of utilitarianism are discussed by scholars and researchers, but one thing always remains the same which is moral authentication of right actions to get increased happiness on the part of an individual. In this way, philosophy is based on the initial concept of humanity. Bentham used the analytical method in criticism with political and legal in the course of morality to elaborate his theory.

Bentham wisely articulated the philosophy by taking a very different position on moral principles. According to him, actions are the doors to personality. He developed his theme by keeping the existing social structure, political scenario, and law conditions of his time in focus which has added value to his thoughts and ideas (Gustafsson, 2017). While other philosophers focused on moral evaluation, Bentham’s primary concern was to evaluate the human character for a better understanding of his inner being. In this way, his theory paid attention to revealing the character of an individual through act-evaluation (Stanford Encyclopedia, 2019). It has no doubt given a new direction to solve the problems of morality and ethics leading to a better comprehension of a stance taken by the individual to handle a real-life situation. The concept is considerably relatable to judge the psyche of an individual through his character in the light of his actions. The reason is that the person only knows a real character of himself while the others can only get insights into his nature, aptitude, and morals by assessing the effects of his actions (Martin, 1997). In this way, the theory is fascinating yet practical to be implemented in major institutions such as law, politics, and social affairs to ensure progressiveness.

Nevertheless, Bentham has taken a unique stance after analyzing different utilitarians to construct his philosophy in a broad spectrum to measure virtue by examining individual actions. He observed that individuals are vulnerable to physical antipathy which provides a pre-text transition towards moral hostility (Collard, 2006). The main reason is that their inner-self triggers a great desire to tease or punish others who have hurt the sentiments of individuals (Gustafsson, 2017). In such a situation, human beings do something morally wrong for the gratification of their inner desire. So, it is essential to keep track of all influencers starting from a background perspective to the post-text effects to understand human actions in order to foster the good in society.


To sum up, Bentham’s viewpoint is sometimes very surprising because it provides a way to judge the quality of morality or ethics by determining instrumentality. However, it does not state that every action is determined instrumentally. It is not that every action is wrong in their virtue, but some acts are turning to be wrong in terms of effects. In this way Bentham endeavors to dismiss the legitimate traditional criterion of individual actions and intentions. However, a few people may do wrong as they exploit their rights and violate freedom of movement and autonomy and in this way, happiness is decreased resulting from an activity. Overall, the philosophy of utility is based on moral quality, and Bentham has taken an intricate position on moral evaluation to determine actions’ quality.


  1. Collard, D. (2006). Research on Well-Being. Philosophy Of The Social Sciences, 36(3), 330-354. DOI: 10.1177/0048393106289795
  2. Gustafsson, J. (2017). Bentham’s binary form of maximizing utilitarianism. British Journal For The History Of Philosophy, 26(1), 87-109. DOI: 10.1080/09608788.2017.1347558
  3. Jeremy Bentham (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). (2019). Retrieved from
  4. Martin, L. (1997). Jeremy Bentham: utilitarianism, public policy, and the administrative state. Journal Of Management History (Archive), 3(3), 272-282. doi: 10.1108/13552529710181622

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