The principle cannot be proved but it is for Bentham the only objective alternative to the mere expression of personal taste. Utility or caprice, reason or mere sound—these are the options and Bentham emphasizes the need for a standard which can be empirically applied. There is no ultimate proof that happiness is better than suffering but, once presented in this way, bentham is confident that all reasonable people would choose the former and having done so his task is to convert such a principle into a detailed and radical. If happiness is the goal and if moral language is meaningless without reference to this standard then the legislators task is to create a legal order in which the fictions with which they work are constantly reduced to the real entities of pleasure and pain. Thus the moral evaluation of a law or a policy proposal comes down in the end to matters of fact, to observation of consequences, to verification. Similarly the tools which the law uses in order to create the greatest happiness are also examples of pleasures and pains, the most notable of course being punishment.
Essays on, bentham / Nejlevnější knihy
As it is only consequences that count and as these are empirically observable then science can begin its work. The process of analysis and quantification in terms of calculable units offers the opportunity of seeing human conduct with a clarity and precision never before seen. Although there were resume a huge variety of pleasures and although exact comparison between the pleasures of different people with different sensibilities and in different circumstances would not be possible, nevertheless from the point of view of the law or policy-maker general calculations were possible. This was to be done through recognizing that pleasures had certain dimensions of value and that the sum of these would give the overall result. Thus intensity and duration were relevant in estimating value as were the degree of certainty and the degree of remoteness of a pleasure, the likelihood of further pleasure following on or the opposite effect occurring. In addition the number of people affected, or the extent of the pleasure, must enter the calculation. Unless this sort of common measure, or currency, were introduced then no comparison would be possible and neither individuals nor legislators could conduct their affairs with any order or rationality or predictive force, those very elements needed for the successful pursuit of the interests which. As well as giving Bentham a fundamental reality by which to describe human behaviour, the idea of pleasure and pain also enters into his moral principle that the only legitimate standard for the individual and the community is utility or the greatest happiness principle. This is his great critical principle designed to promote reform, not a principle, as with Hume, to explain the rationality of custom and constraint but to emphasize the gulf between what is and what ought. It is Benthams attempt to erect an external standard by which disputes can be resolved by a rational calculation of various options; these options being in turn resolvable down to questions of pleasures and pains.
Nevertheless, having made due allowance for the social motives of sympathy and paper benevolence, bentham did not consider them to be of great force and argued that generally self-preference was predominant; certainly it should be the basic assumption for the art of legislation. He argues that such self-preference is the normal state for normal people and that the design of law should reflect this. It is not a definition a priori The early utilitarians 7 nor a factual truth—the one would be trivial and the other false—but a generalization which is not only true as such but is the only working assumption which a legislator can adopt. In this way all human conduct with all the possible motives influencing it can be reduced to pleasures and pains—real entities experienced by real individuals whose psychology generally puts themselves first. Thus a scientific approach becomes possible in that pleasures and pains become the unit of classification, measurement and comparison. Certainly this will be no easy process, not least because each individual may judge pleasures differently, but the fact that the legislator is dealing with observable conduct which it can be assumed indicates the strength or weakness of the motive opens up the possibility. The evidence of interests, of the pleasures which motivate people, is thus their conduct, and the relative value of such pleasures and pains can be observed.
However, is the hedonism which Bentham believes in a matter of fact, a matter of definition, or itself also a generalization? Is it an a priori axiom or the result of observation? Although Bentham at times seems to incline towards the latter, in that he cites evidence and the results of observation, his enumeration of the great range of motives is entirely in terms of pleasures and pains—not certainly all egoistic—but nevertheless making all human conduct analysable. Thus the facts of human psychology reflect Benthams earlier view that the only real entities are pleasures and pains. Such motives can be social, dissocial, or self-regarding but they all correspond to pleasures, even those of goodwill or benevolence. Where all examples can be thus described in terms of pleasure and pain, the original assumption becomes definitional rather than empirical. However, such pleasures are not all self-regarding even if in the final analysis the pleasure sought is the agents own, for it is still possible to distinguish such pleasures from those more obviously concerned with self-preference. Put differently, while every motive has a corresponding interest this need not strictly speaking be self-interest in a crude egoistic sense.
Bentham s Contextualism and Its Relation to Analytic
The first is that human beings are so constituted that what they glee seek is pleasure and the second is that every action is judged right or wrong according to its tendency to augment or diminish such happiness (or pleasures over pains) for the party involved. Thus Bentham is involved in two enquiries—the one into human nature and the other into moral philo-sophy. Although the second should accord with the first it could not be logically deduced from it; indeed strictly speaking it could not be proved at all. However, that these are two separate statements is important to recognize despite benthams linking of them both to nature. The normative or critical principle indicates what ought to happen, the end, the goal of legislation; the descriptive indicates the material, the limitations imposed on the legislator in achieving those ends.
For the project to work these two aspects must be made consistent—the pursuit of pleasure by the individual as a natural activity must be made compatible with the achievement of the happiness of the community over whom the ruler legislates. Only if the two principles are kept separate can the critical one do its work, the work of improvement and reform; indeed only then does it have a role at all. The principle of utility or the greatest happiness principle is meant to be realizable and thus must recognize the natural qualities of human beings, but it has to work on or modify the ensuing conduct in order to achieve its moral end. Whether and how the individual pursuit of pleasure can co-exist with the communitys aim of greatest happiness is an issue to be resolved once further exploration of the two claims is completed. The natural statement—of what is the case—amounts to a form of psychological hedonism, that all action willed by human beings is motivated by the desire to obtain pleasure or avoid pain. This does not necessarily imply psychological egoism, that it is only the agents own pleasure or pain which acts as the motivating force, though, as we shall see, bentham sees this as a general rule.
It is thus important to reform language to give it meaning and so be in a position to change the real world. The slate of confusion, mystery and corruption must be wiped clean and on it written only that which makes sense by being real. Once this is done the process of describing, classifying, quantifying as well as the process of prescribing and reforming can begin—a science of legislation both accurate in detail and conducive to improvement can begin to be formulated. Once vagueness and ambiguity are eliminated and abstract terms are replaced by concrete detail then the way is open for a clear understanding of human nature which will provide the basis for a system of legislation which in turn will be the great instrument for. Benthams intention was to combine the discovery of new principles with detailed attention to their practical uses; indeed he saw his own genius as lying in the introduction of rigorous detailed investigation to supplement the more traditional concern with general principles. In this he compared his work with that of the natural scientist though in his case the detail came not from observation and experiment but from analysis, classification and division.
His belief in the fundamental importance of a clear and accurate vocabulary underlay his early optimism that reason once employed would be the vehicle of both accurate exposition of the law as it was and enlightened criticism of the law as it ought. The Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1.5, 11) is Benthams best known attempt to outline the fruits of this new method by outlining his principle of utility and the structure of law which would result from its adoption and application. Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. This striking though rather compressed summary of his basic philosophy puts forward two distinct claims, though in a manner not altogether without confusion. Following Hume, bentham was always emphatic that the idea of what is must be kept distinct from the idea of what ought to be, and thus he is here making two claims, a factual or descriptive one and also a normative or prescriptive one.
Hart essays on bentham
Thus a fiction is made clear by its translation into its relation to the real. Ideas are thus clarified by reference to their context—the sentence; whether or not the sentence can be paraphrased into one which contains real terms is the deciding factor with regard to its sense or nonsense. In a sense the substitute sentence provides the possibility of verifying the original by reference to the world of real entities. Thus if the word duty were used without reference to the pain through punishment which the law laid down then the duty would have no more meaning than an expression of opinion. In this way the law, by distinguishing between the real and barbing the fictitious and between the fictitious which can be paraphrased or verified and those fictitious entities which cannot be, can be clarified and reformed. The fabulous entities will be purged, the (legitimate) fictional entities will be established on firm—because real—foundations. These real entities are pleasures and pains and where some might refer to frugality and thrift and others to meanness and greed these in the end come down to the pleasures and pains consequent on the action not on any inherent goodness or badness. The real world must be recognised in this way and all fictions, however necessary, must be referable to them.
Fictions then are necessary, but how to distinguish fictions that are legitimate from those which are strictly speaking nonsense—fictional entities from fabulous entities? The key here is a method which while translating fictional entities into real entities at the same time gives a criterion for denying meaning to those fictions incapable of such translation. The method Bentham discovered was that of paraphrasis, the only mode of exposition for those abstract terms where there was no superior genus to which they belonged and where the Aristotelian method of definition per genus et differentiam was thus inapplicable. To define a fictitious entity only by reference to other fictitious entities offered no solution. The clarification needed is in terms of the real and perceptible; Bentham does this not by translating one word by another or one term by its component parts, but by translating one sentence in which the term appears into another which is equivalent but. In these two parallel propositions the import would be the same but the device of paraphrasis would give simple clarity to the sentence translated and if such translation into real terms were impossible it would reveal the fabulous or nonsensical nature of the original (1.5. An example might help here: however much we might classify rights and duties, the general idea of a right or duty can only be explained by paraphrasis—thus a sentence containing those terms would be translated into one explaining for what the law makes us liable.review
practical advancement was as clear. The starting point for the whole project which gives meaning and form to these brief biographical points was Benthams early realization of the importance of language. Not only in the field of law, where falsehoods, absurdities and nonsensities were common, but in many other fields as well, careful definition was sacrificed to vagueness and emotiveness. The dominant and therefore sinister interests in any area—law, morality, politics—maintained a language in which the words were either totally unclear or contained an inherent prejudice or bias in their favour. Unless language could be made clear the truth would be concealed and the possibility of improvement would be lost. Definition is the key and it depends first on distinguishing between real and fictitious entities and then on determining the legitimacy or not of the latter by benthams new method—that of paraphrasis. Nouns can be divided into those which are names of real entities—those things whose existence gives immediate consciousness, which can be directly perceived by the senses, and which are either states of body or states of mind—and fictitious entities which are referred to. In the first category the most basic examples would be pleasure or pain while in the latter the most frequent examples, say in law, would be duty, right or power. These latter are linguistic constructs and as such are fictions but, as those examples show, this does not mean that language could do without them. Although they do not exist in themselves and although they give rise to doubt and confusion this does not mean that they are all meaningless.
His central concern was the study of legislation, a concern developed from his own disillusionment with the state of English law and thesis his positive response to the works of those like helvetius and Beccaria who had argued that there must be some general and rational. As we shall see, this task involved both expository and censorial elements and the principle of utility which Bentham formulated provided the basis of his lifes work. During the eighteenth century his main approach assumed that the successful achievement of Enlightenment thought would lead to its equally successful application through direct contact and conversion of benevolent despots or at least their influential advisers. In the 1780s he spent two years in Russia with some hope of convincing. Catherine the Great, but with his failure to gain influence amongst the powerful, whether over his general ideas or over his detailed projects, he became increasingly convinced that sinister interests—the law, the Church, parliament—would act as obstacles. In which case, politics would have to be reformed—the ruling elite would have to be tamed—before his lifes work could be realized. Constitutional law not just civil and criminal law stood in need of drastic reform. The influence of James Mill and later the growth of a school of reformers—the Philosophical Radicals—gave. Bentham, now in his sixties, a new zest for work and an added commitment to reforming the law in Russia, america, spain, portugal, Greece, latin America, as well as to reforming all manner of abuses in British public life.
Hart, english philosopher, teacher, and author
Interpretation, utilitarians (The early the early utilitarians, bentham and James Mill. L.Williams, jeremy bentham was born in 1748 in London; his the prosperous father, a lawyer who became wealthy from property rather than the law, planned out for his son a brilliant legal career. After an early education at Westminster and Oxford he was called to the bar in 1769. However, instead of mastering the complexities, technicalities, precedents and mysteries of the law in order to carve out a successful career, benthams response to such chaos and absurdity was to challenge the whole structure of law and to attempt to replace it with a system. In many ways a typical philosophe of the eighteenth century, bentham at this early stage seized on the possibility of improvement through knowledge, on the supremacy of reason over superstition and of order over chaos. Despite his living and writing into the new age of the nineteenth century—post-revolutionary, industrialized, democratic—this early inspiration that enlightenment would bring about a better world never left him. To help create a world as it might be—as it ought to be—rather than succeed in a world as it was—customary, prejudiced and corrupt—was his constant aim whatever the particular object he pursued within his encyclopaedic interests, and whether the study be abstract and philosophical.