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Political Thought- Bentham

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by: Kendahl Notetaker

Political Thought- Bentham 1002

Marketplace > George Washington University > Biology > 1002 > Political Thought Bentham
Kendahl Notetaker
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About this Document

Food Nutrition and Service
Dr. Scully
Politics, philosophy




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1 review
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"What an unbelievable resource! I probably needed course on how to decipher my own handwriting, but not anymore..."
Yvette Oberbrunner

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This 3 page Bundle was uploaded by Kendahl Notetaker on Monday January 11, 2016. The Bundle belongs to 1002 at George Washington University taught by Dr. Scully in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 34 views. For similar materials see Food Nutrition and Service in Biology at George Washington University.


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What an unbelievable resource! I probably needed course on how to decipher my own handwriting, but not anymore...

-Yvette Oberbrunner


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Date Created: 01/11/16
Bentham/Mill Hobbes and Locke grounded their arguments on natural rights. Foundations in liberalism. Limited government.  Natural rights o Most governments don’t consider natural rights or social contract.  British liberalism moved away from natural rights to consequentialism o Separation goes back to Burke’s critique of the French Revolution.  Principles of natural rights were basically theoretical. No precedent for modern philosophy in state of nature. Appeal to natural rights is insufficient.  Everything is very abstract and ineffective and dangerous, too dangerous to be useful. o More problems on appealing to nature as a justification of rights  Fact value distinction- facts are claims about how things are values- how things should be.  Justifying rights through god is problematic because a)everyone doesn’t believe in the same god b)there is no tangible evidence to prove this. C) Nobody knows what god wants and what his standards are.  No longer possible to claim that natural rights are self evident  By the 1790s that claim was no longer viable. Hard to claim that rights were self evident. If they were no longer self evident can’t be used to promote limited government. o How to fix this?  Give up on trying to make a democratic liberal society.  Others wanted to preserve the outcome of liberalism but place it on a different foundation. The theoretical claims used to justify revolutions were no longer viable  Bentham/ Mill tried to place liberalism on a different plane o Utilitarianism  Seeking a specific purpose.  Bentham- greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people.  Right action is action that promotes happiness and pleasure . Happiness/utility/pleasure same thing. But all individuals have an equal claim on happiness. Concludes that social policy should promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number.  Believes that actions and policy creates the greatest happiness  Utility is subjective- you do things that will yield individual benefit for yourself  Greatest happiness principle- Greatest happiness of the greatest number.  Consequentialism- approach to moral reasoning. Justifying actions on the merit of their consequences. Right actions promote good consequences.  Utilitarianism focuses on a specific consequence: Greatest happiness of the greatest number.  Bentham rejected the concept of natural rights.  Thought you needed to assume to justify consequences by conceptualizing one persons happiness as equal to anyone else’s.  Bentham’s state of war. It’s a state of inequality that exists when small group of people can get power at the expense of everyone else.  Bentham does not think you can trust people to achieve the collective happiness of everyone. Self preference principle  Found answers in discipline of political economy of Adam smith.-We don’t need coercive laws to help us achieve the happiness of others.  Bentham thinks the best way to promote happiness is to leave people alone “ invisible hand”.  The output of Ghp is equal to the principle of laissez faire. Policy of minimal regulation of economic activity o James Mill  Trained John Stuart to be living principle of utilitarianism. o After breakdown Mill questioned some aspects of Bentham’s philosophy  Wondered if happiness pleasure and utility are all the same thing  One thing exists at the exclusion of almost everything else  If the majority of people like one mundane activity, those should be promoted.- Mill disagrees with this principle.  For Mill a world such as this couldn’t be just. o Mill tries to reformulate the Greatest Happiness Principle as a commitment to what he calls higher pleasures.  By happiness he means pleasure that is distinctively human to a mature person in control of their own faculty.  How to decide what qualifies as higher pleasure?  Thinks lower pleasure is not good enough  Judge by if enough people prefer one greatly over the other.  Ask those who are exposed and competent in both lower and higher pleasure. Elitism and classist. Goes against bentham’s principle of the equality of happiness.  Doesn’t believe that we are a good judge of our own happiness.  Happiness doesn’t mean being happy all the time  If you ask competent people if they would have a higher or lower pleasure they would most likely be the higher principle. Then you know you are dealing with a higher pleasure if you experience some level of discontent. o In on liberty  Utility is the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions.  If you allow people to pursue their own happiness they will be more likely to enjoy higher pleasures.


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