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Jeremy Bentham: Psychological Hedonism PowerPoint Presentation
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Jeremy Bentham: Psychological Hedonism

Jeremy Bentham: Psychological Hedonism

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Jeremy Bentham: Psychological Hedonism

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  1. Jeremy Bentham: Psychological Hedonism An account of human nature is necessary in order to describe morals and legislation scientifically. Just as we explain nature by means of the laws of physics, we can explain human behavior via two primary motives. • PLEASURE • PAIN This is the theory of psychological hedonism.

  2. The Role of Pleasure & Pain Pleasure and pain provide explanations for action as well as define what a person deems “good”. Pleasures & pains can only exist in individuals. Bentham thought you could construct a “calculus of value” on this basis. • Calculation would be easier to do if only have to take into account the individual.

  3. The Hedonic Calculus 1.  The intensity of the pleasure or pain. 2.  The duration of the pleasure or pain. 3.  The certainty or uncertainty of the pleasure or pain. 4.  The remoteness of any pleasure or pain. (Propinquity) 5.  The chances of the same effects being repeated. (Fecundity) 6.  The chances of the same effects not being repeated. (Purity) 7.  The number of people who will be affected by any pleasure or pain arising as a result of the action(s) in question. 

  4. Two Aspects of the Individual Individuals are, by nature, hedonistic – driven by pleasure and pain. Individuals also exhibit a natural, rational self-interest -- called psychological egoism. Bentham believed a person’s fundamental interest was their own well-being • He believed that the human capacity of REASON-- was in service of this interest.

  5. Human Nature Not Described as Social Bentham believed that the nature of the human person can be adequately described without mention of social relationships. • For Bentham the idea of a “relation” was a fictitious concept • Although we needed the concept in order to be able to talk “conveniently.”

  6. Community is a “fictitious body” • The community is only "the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it." • A person's relations with others -- even if important -- are not essential and describe nothing that is necessary to a person being what it is.

  7. Bentham’s Moral Philosophy There are three principal characteristics of Bentham’s Moral Philosophy: • The Greatest Happiness Principle • Universal Egoism • The artificial identification of one's interests with those of others.

  8. Moral Obligation in Bentham’s Theory • What is morally obligatory is that which produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. How do we measure “happiness”? • By the presence of pleasure • By the absence of pain.

  9. The Advantages of Utility Bentham argued that there are advantages to a moral philosophy based on a principle of utility. • It is clear. • It allows for objective and disinterested public discussion. • It enables decisions to be made where there seem to be conflicts of legitimate interests.

  10. Human Equality as Benefit of the “Calculus” The calculus involves a fundamental commitment to human equality. The Principle of Utility presupposes that 'one man is worth just the same as another man' • Thus there is a guarantee that in calculating the greatest happiness "each person is to count for one and no one for more than one."