Utilitas 7 (1):87-96 (1995)

In the paper I offer a brief sketch of one of the sources of utilitarianism. Our biological ancestry is a matter of fact that is not altered by the way we describe ourselves. With philosophical theories it is otherwise. Utilitarianism can be described in ways that make it look as if it is as old as moral philosophy – as J. S. Mill thought it was. For my historical purposes, it is more useful to have an account that brings out what is specific about Benthamism and its descendants. Let us try to make do with the following. First, utilitarianism asserts that the fundamental requirement of morality is that we are to maximize good, for everyone and not just for the agent. This basic principle presupposes that it makes sense to think of aggregating goods to make a total, and of comparing amounts of good thus aggregated. Second, the good to be brought about is located in feelings of pleasure, and the evil to be avoided in feelings of pain. These feelings have inherent value or disvalue regardless of how they are caused to exist and regardless of their own consequences. Third, all moral principles can be derived from the requirement that good be maximized. The principles involved in evaluating agents as well as in giving moral direction to action are nothing but applications of the basic principle.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S0953820800001862
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,319
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Utilitarianism.Kent E. Robson - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 10:355-360.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Moral Disunitarianism.Johan Brännmark - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (264):481-499.
Utilitarianism and its British Nineteenth-Century Critics.Sergio Volodia Marcello Cremaschi - 2008 - Notizie di Politeia. Rivista di Etica E Scelte Pubbliche 24 (90):31-49.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Mill's Utilitarianism: Exposition and Evaluation.Golam Azam - 2005 - Philosophy and Progress 37:137.
Distributive Justice and Welfarism in Utilitarianism.Jörg Schroth - 2008 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 51 (2):123-146.
Ideal Utilitarianism.Susan Mary Kozal Brennan - 1988 - Dissertation, The University of Iowa
Mill’s Moral Standard.Ben Eggleston - 2017 - In Christopher Macleod & Dale E. Miller (eds.), A Companion to Mill. Oxford, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. pp. 358-373.
The Cambridge Companion to Utilitarianism.Ben Eggleston & Dale E. Miller (eds.) - 2014 - Cambridge University Press.
Act Utilitarianism.Ben Eggleston - 2014 - In Ben Eggleston & Dale E. Miller (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Utilitarianism. Cambridge University Press. pp. 125-145.
Sidgwick's Ethical Maxims.A. R. Lacey - 1959 - Philosophy 34 (130):217 - 228.
Utilitarian Alternatives to Act Utilitarianism.Sanford S. Levy - 1997 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (1):93–112.
Utilitarian Morality and the Personal Point of View.David O. Brink - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (8):417-438.


Added to PP index

Total views
91 ( #118,116 of 2,448,698 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #224,503 of 2,448,698 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes