Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) & John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
Utilitarianism
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/

Auguste Comte (1798-1857)
Positivism
http://www.multimania.com/clotilde/home.htm

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Background:
Industrial
Revolution
and Rise of
Capitalism

  1. That to secure these rights [to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (Jefferson, Declaration of Independence)

Bentham:
Hedonistic
Utilitarianism

  1. [T]he greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.
  2. Moral good is good only on account of its tendency to secure physical benefits: moral evil is evil only on account of its tendency to induce physical mischief.
  3. [W]e must discover some calculus or process of moral arithmetic.
  4. Every one to count for one and nobody to count for more than one.
  5. Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, Pleasure and Pain. To them ... we refer all our decisions, every resolve that we make in life. ( 165)
  6. I am an adherent of the Principle of Utility when I measure my approval or disapproval of any act, public or private, by its tendency to produce pains and pleasures. (165)
  7. [Q]uantity of pleasure being equal, pushpin is as good as poetry.
  8. Now, if we examine the value of a pleasure considered by itself and in relation to a single individual, we shall find that it depends on four circumstances: ( 1 ) Its Intensity;  (2) its Duration; (3) its Certainty; (4) its Proximity. (165)
  9. The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been witholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. ... The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but Can they suffer?

J. S. Mill:
Eudaemonistic
Utilitarianism

  1. It is better to be a human being dissatisfied, than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied". (John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, 1863 
  2. [T]he sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self protection. ... Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. (166)
  3. This then is the appropriate region of human liberty. It comprises, first, the inward domain of consciousness; ... liberty of thought and feeling; . . . of tastes and pursuits; ... of doing what we like ... without impediment from our fellow-creatures, so long as what we do does not harm them, even though they should think our conduct foolish, perverse, or wrong. (167 )
  4. We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still. (167 )
  5. [I]t is as certain that many opinions now general will be rejected by future ages, as it is that many, once general, are rejected by the present. (167)
  6. But much more of the meaning ... would have been understood, and what was understood would have been far more deeply impressed on the mind, if the man had been accustomed to hear it argued pro and con .... (167)
  7. Individuality is the same thing with development, and it is only the cultivation of individuality which produces or can produce, well-developed human beings. (168)
  8. [Drugs] may, however, be wanted not only for innocent but for useful purposes, and restrictions cannot be imposed in the one case without operating
    in the other. (l68)
  9. [F]ornication, for example, must be tolerated, and so must gambling; but should a person be free to be a pimp, or to keep a gambling house?  ...  There are arguments on both sides. ( 168)
  10. That the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes -- the legal subordination of one sex to the other -- is wrong itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equalitv, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other. ( The Subjection of Women)
  11. I am conscious in myself of a series of facts connected by an uniform sequence, of which the beginning is modifications of my body, the middle is feelings, the end is outward demeanour. In the case of other human beings I have the evidence of my senses for the first and last links of the series, but not for the intermediate link....by supposing the link to be of the same nature as in the case of which I have experience ... I bring other human beings, as phenomena, under the same generalizations which I know by experience to be the true theory of my own existence. (An Examination of Sir William Harmilton's Philosophy 6th edition)

Criticisms of
Utilitarianism

 

“One man ought never to be dealt with as a means subservient to the purposes of another.”  (Kant)

 

 

  1. The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it. The only proof that sound is audible, is that people hear it: and so of the other sources of experience.  In like manner, I apprehend the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people actually do desire it. ... This being a fact, we have not only all the proof which the case admits of but all which it is possible to require, that happiness is a good: that each person's happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons. (Mill: 171)
  2. Juridical punishment can never be administered merely as a means for promoting another good either with regard to the criminal himself or to civil society, but must in all cases be imposed only because the individual on whom it is inflicted has committed a crime. (Kant)

Comte:
Postive
Knowledge
& Sociology

  1. Now that the human mind has grasped celestial and terrestrial physics -- mechanical and chemical; organic physics, both vegetable and animal -- there remains one science, to fill up the series of sciences of observation -- Social physics. This is what men have now most need of and this it is the principal aim of the present work to establish. (Positive Philosophy, Ch.1)
  2. In the final, the positive state, the mind has given over the vain search after Absolute notions, the origin and destination of the universe, and the causes of phenomena, and applies itself to the study of their laws -- that is, their invariable relations of succession and resemblance. Reasoning and observation, duly combined, are the means of this knowledge. What is now understood when we spcak of an explanation offacts is simply the establishment of a connection between single phenomena and some general facts, the number of which continually diminishes with the
    progress of science. (Positive Philosophy, Ch.1)
  3. From the study of the development of human intelligence, in all directions, and through all times, the discovery arises of a great fundamental law ... that each of our leading conceptions -- each branch of our knowledge -- passes successively through three different theoretical conditions: the theological, or fictitious; the metaphysical, or abstract; and the scientific, or positive. (Positive Philosophy, Ch.1)
  4. Can it be supposed that the most important and the most delicate conceptions, and those which by their complexity are acccssible to onlv a small number of highly-prepared understandings, are to be abandoned to the arbitrary and variable decisions of the least competent minds? (177 )

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