3.4.1 Consequentialism: Utilitarianism


By the end of this section you will discover:

  • The objective ethics approach called Utilitarianism, a form of consequentialism.
  • The major philosophers associated with Utilitarianism.
  • Some of the key principles of the utilitarian approach.
  • Two types of utilitarianism: act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism.
  • The Hedonic Calculus of the utilitarian Jeremy Bentham.
  • How J.S. Mill’s Qualitative Utilitarianism differed from the Utilitarianism of Bentham.
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the utilitarian approach to ethics.

Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism. For consequentialism, the moral rightness or wrongness of an act depends on the consequences it produces. On consequentialist grounds, actions and inactions whose negative consequences outweigh the positive consequences will be deemed morally wrong while actions and inactions whose positive consequences outweigh the negative consequences will be deemed morally right. On utilitarian grounds, actions and inactions which benefit few people and harm more people will be deemed morally wrong while actions and inactions which harm fewer people and benefit more people will be deemed morally right.

Ponder if you will….

Does the trolley problem pose any unique moral issues? Do these issues weaken or strengthen the Utilitarian moral argument?

Do you think that individual happiness and societal happiness are the same thing?

How does the “Trolley Problem” illustrate your position?

Benefit and harm can be characterized in more than one way; for classical Utilitarians such as Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), they are defined in terms of happiness/unhappiness and pleasure/pain. On this view, actions and inactions that cause less pain or unhappiness and more pleasure or happiness than available alternative actions and inactions will be deemed morally right, while actions and inactions that cause more pain or unhappiness and less pleasure or happiness than available alternative actions and inactions will be deemed morally wrong.

Utilitarianism: Crash Course Philosophy #36

 Or watch the video here

The Principle of Utility

Bentham was the first ethicist to suggest that pleasure and pain could be measured. His theory was the rage in his day because it professed to offer a mathematical formula for determining moral action. He argued that one simply needs to calculate the number of positive and negative units of pleasure/pain. A unit of pleasure he called a utility.

The concern of the Utilitarians is how to increase net utility. Their moral theory is based on the principle … which states that “the morally right action is the action that produces the most good.” The morally wrong action is the one that leads to the reduction of the maximum good. For instance, a utilitarian may argue that although some armed robbers robbed a bank in a heist, as long as there are more people who benefit from the robbery (say, in a Robin Hood-like manner the robbers generously shared the money with many people) than there are people who suffer from the robbery (say, only the billionaire who owns the bank will bear the cost of the loss), the heist will be morally right rather than morally wrong. And on this utilitarian premise, if more people suffer from the heist while fewer people benefit from it, the heist will be morally wrong. (Matthews, et.al. Ch. 5)


Utilitarians employ the principle of maximal happiness, which Bentham understood in terms of the pleasure/pain dynamic. Its assumption is that we all desire pleasure and seek to avoid pain.

Hedonism is a theory of well-being.  What separates Hedonism from other theories of well-being is that the hedonist believes that what defines a successful life is directly related to the amount of pleasure in that life; no other factors are relevant at all. Therefore, the more pleasure that a person experiences in their life then the better their life goes, and vice versa. Whereas other theories might focus on fulfilling desires people have, or an objective list of things such as friendship and health.

The roots of Hedonism can be traced back at least as far as Epicurus (341–270 BC) and Ancient Greece. Epicurus held the hedonistic view that the primary intrinsic good for a person is pleasure; meaning that pleasure is always good for a person in and of itself, irrespective of the cause or context of the pleasure. According to this theory, pleasure is always intrinsically good for a person and less pleasure is always intrinsically bad.

Hedonism is a relatively simple theory of what makes your life better. If you feel that your life would be better if you won the lottery, married your true love, or achieved your desired qualifications, then the hedonistic explanation of these judgments is that these things are good for you only if they provide you with pleasure. Many pleasures may be physical, but [some advocate for] a theory known as Attitudinal Hedonism. According to this theory, psychological pleasures can themselves count as intrinsically good for a person. So, while reading a book would not seem to produce pleasure in a physical way, a hedonist may value the psychological pleasure associated with that act of reading and thus accept that it can improve a person’s well-being. This understanding of hedonistic pleasure may help to explain why, for example, one person can gain so much pleasure from a Lady Gaga album while another gains nothing at all; the psychological responses to the music differ. (Dimmock et al, Ch. 1: Utilitarianism)

But are the Hedonists correct? Are human moral urges really that simple? Do all of our choices boil down to a desire to feel pleasure or avoid pain? Robert Nozick has offered a thought experiment that questions the assumptions of Hedonism.

Nozick’s Experience Machine

One important problem for Hedonism is that our well-being seems to be affected by more than just the total pleasure in our lives. It may be the case that you enjoy gaining a new qualification, but there seems to be more to the value of this event than merely the pleasure produced. Many people agree that success in gaining a meaningful qualification improves your life even if no pleasure is obtained from it. Certainly, many believe that the relationship between what improves your life and what gives pleasure is not directly proportional, as the hedonist would claim.

Robert Nozick (1938–2002) attacked the hedonistic idea that pleasure is the only good by testing our intuitions via a now-famous thought-experiment. Nozick asks:

Suppose there was an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Super-duper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain. Should you plug into this machine for life, pre-programming your life experiences? […] Of course, while in the tank you won’t know that you’re there; you’ll think that it’s all actually happening […] would you plug in?1

Nozick’s challenge to Hedonism is based on the thought that most people who consider this possible situation would opt not to plug in. Indeed, if you ask yourself if you would actually choose to leave behind your real friends, family, and life in favor of a pre-programmed existence you also might conclude that plugging into the experience machine would not be desirable. However, if Hedonism is correct and our well-being is determined entirely by the amount of pleasure that we experience, then Nozick wonders “what else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside?”2 The experience machine guarantees us pleasure yet we find it unappealing compared to a real-life where pleasure is far from assured. This may suggest that our well-being is determined by other factors in addition to how much pleasure we secure, perhaps knowledge or friendships.

The Hedonists need not give way entirely on this point, of course, as they may feel that the experience machine is desirable just because it guarantees experiences of pleasure. Or you might believe that our suspicions about the machine are misplaced. After all, once inside the machine we would not suspect that things were not real. You may feel that the hedonist could bite the bullet (accept the apparently awkward conclusion as a non-fatal implication of the theory) and say that any reticence to enter the machine is irrational. Perhaps the lives of those choosing to be plugged into the machine would go extraordinarily well! (Dimmock et al, Ch. 1: Utilitarianism)

What do you think? Would you make the choice to be hooked up to Nozick’s machine if it was certain to give you a long life of (simulated) pleasure? Or would you feel you were somehow “missing out” on something essential to human life?

Two Types of Utilitarianism

Bentham and Mill, as we will see in the excerpts below, had different approaches to how to make utilitarian calculations. For Bentham, each choice should be weighed individually for its likely consequences. This act utilitarianism focused on individual actions and said that we should apply the principle of utility in order to evaluate them. Therefore, act Utilitarians argue that among possible actions, the action that produces the most utility would be the morally right action.

But this may seem impossible to do in practice since, for everything that we might do that has a potential effect on other people, we would thus be morally required to examine its consequences and pick the one with the best outcome. [Mill’s] rule utilitarianism responds to this problem by focusing on general types of actions and determining whether they typically lead to good or bad results. This, for them, is the meaning of commonly held moral rules: they are generalizations of the typical consequences of our actions. For example, if stealing typically leads to bad consequences, stealing, in general, would be considered by a rule utilitarian to be wrong.

Hence rule utilitarians claim to be able to reinterpret talk of rights, justice, and fair treatment in terms of the principle of utility by claiming that the rationale behind any such rules is really that these rules generally lead to greater welfare for all concerned. We may wonder whether utilitarianism, in general, is capable of even addressing the notion that people have rights and deserve to be treated justly and fairly because in critical situations the rights and well-being of persons can be sacrificed as long as this seems to lead to an increase overall utility.

For example, in a variation of the famous “trolley problem,”

imagine that you and an overweight stranger are standing next to each other on a footbridge above a rail track. You discover that there is a runaway trolley rolling down the track and the trolley is about to kill five people who cannot get off of the track quickly enough to avoid the accident. Being willing to sacrifice yourself to save the five persons, you consider jumping off the bridge, in front of the trolley…but you realize that you are far too light to stop the trolley…. The only way you can stop the trolley from killing five people is by pushing this large stranger off the footbridge, in front of the trolley. If you push the stranger off, he will be killed, but you will save the other five.

Utilitarianism, especially act utilitarianism, seems to suggest that the life of the overweight stranger should be sacrificed regardless of any purported right to life he may have. A rule utilitarian, however, may respond that since in general killing innocent people to save others is not what typically leads to the best outcomes, we should be very wary of making a decision to do so in this case. This is especially true in this scenario since everything rests on our calculation of what might possibly stop the trolley, while in fact there is really far too much uncertainty in the outcome to warrant such a serious decision. If nothing else, the emphasis placed on general principles by rule Utilitarians can serve as a warning not to take too lightly the notion that the ends might justify the means.

Whether or not this response is adequate is something that has been extensively debated with reference to this famous example as well as countless variations. (Matthews, et.al. Ch. 5)

Act Utilitarianism: Bentham

A portrait of Jeremy Bentham by Henry William Pickersgill
Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832)
The Foundations of Bentham’s Utilitarianism

Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) was the first of the “classical Utilitarians”. Driven by a genuine desire for social reform, Bentham wanted to be as involved in law, politics, and economics as in abstract philosophizing.

Bentham developed his moral theory of Utilitarianism on the foundation of the type of hedonistic thinking described in section two. For Bentham, the only thing that determines the value of a life, or indeed the value of an event or action, is the amount of pleasure contained in that life, or the amount of pleasure produced as a result of that event or action. Bentham is a hedonistic utilitarian. This belief in Hedonism, however, was not something that Bentham took to be unjustified or arbitrary; for him, Hedonism could be empirically justified by evidence from the world in its favor. According to Bentham:

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 do.

Bentham moves from this empirical claim about the factors that guide our behavior to a normative claim about how we ought to live. He creates a moral theory based on bringing about more pleasure and less pain.

… Bentham defined “utility” as “[…] that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness […] or […] to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness.” Utility is thus promoted when pleasure is promoted and when unhappiness is avoided. Bentham’s commitment to Hedonism means for him that goodness is just an increase in pleasure, and evil or unhappiness is just an increase in pain or decrease in pleasure. With this understanding of utility in mind, Bentham commits himself to the Principle of Utility:

By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing, in other words, to promote or to oppose that happiness.

In effect, this principle simply says that promoting utility, defined in terms of pleasure, is to be approved of and reducing utility is to be disapproved of.

The Principle of Utility, backed by a commitment to Hedonism, underpins the central utilitarian claim made by Bentham. Based on a phrase that he wrongly attributed to Joseph Priestley (1733–1804), Bentham suggests that the measure of right and wrong is the extent to which an action produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Of course, what counts as good, for Bentham, is pleasure. We can then rephrase what Bentham himself calls his fundamental axiom as a requirement to promote the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people, in order to act morally.

The Structure of Bentham’s Utilitarianism

In addition to being hedonistic, Bentham’s Utilitarianism is also:

  • Consequentialist/Teleological
  • Relativist
  • Maximizing
  • Impartial

Bentham’s Utilitarianism is consequentialist because the moral value of an action or event is determined entirely by the consequences of that event. The theory is also described as teleological for the same reason, based on the Greek word telos which means “end” or “purpose”. If more pleasure follows as a consequence of “Action A” rather than “Action B”, then according to the fundamental axiom of Utilitarianism “Action A” should be undertaken and is morally right; choosing “Action B” would be morally wrong.

In addition, Bentham’s Utilitarianism is relativistic rather than absolutist. Absolutist moral views hold that certain actions will always be morally wrong irrespective of context or consequences. For example, many campaigning groups suggest that torture is always morally unacceptable whether it is carried out by vindictive dictators seeking to instill fear in a population or whether it is authorized by democratically elected governments seeking to obtain information in order to stop a terrorist attack. For absolutists then, the act of torture is absolutely wrong in all cases and situations.

Clearly, Bentham cannot hold this type of view because sometimes the pain involved in torture may lead to the promotion of greater pleasure (or less intense pain) overall, such as in the case where torture stops a terrorist atrocity. On this basis, the Benthamite utilitarian must believe that whether a certain action is right or wrong is always relative to the situation in which the action takes place.

Bentham’s Utilitarianism is maximizing because it does not merely require that pleasure is promoted, but that the greatest pleasure for the greatest number is secured. This means that some actions that lead to pleasure will still not be morally good acts if another action that could have produced even more pleasure in that setting was rejected. Thus, for example, if you gain some pleasure from spending money on a new book, but that money could have produced more pleasure had it been donated to a local charity for the homeless, then buying a new book would be morally wrong even though it led to some pleasure because it did not maximize the total amount of pleasure that was possible in that circumstance.

Finally, Bentham’s Utilitarianism is also impartial in the sense that what matters is simply securing the maximum amount of pleasure for the maximum number of people; the theory does not give special preference regarding which people are supposed to have access to, or share in, that total pleasure. Bentham’s utilitarian theory is associated with the idea of equal consideration of interests; as long as total pleasure is maximized then it does not matter if that pleasure is experienced by royalty, presidents, siblings, children, friends, or enemies. In the total calculation of pleasure, we are all equal regardless of our status, behavior, or any other social factor.

The Hedonic Calculus

Hopefully, it is now clear that for Bentham the consequences in terms of pleasure production of any action are what determine the morality of that action, and that no other factors are relevant. However, it is not clear how exactly we should go about working out what to do in specific cases.

For example:

You are a military airman flying a fighter jet that is about to intercept a passenger airliner that seems to have been hijacked by an as-yet-unknown figure. The plane appears to be on a path that could take it either to an airport or, potentially, directly to a major and highly populated city. You are tasked with deciding how to act and must, therefore, choose whether or not to fire a missile at the plane. Firing at the plane would kill the passengers but save all lives on the ground, yet not firing may save the passengers, or it may give the passengers only a few more minutes before the plane is flown into a city full of innocents and they are killed in any case. Suggesting that the pilot weigh up the options and choose the action that secures the greatest pleasure for the greatest number is not obviously helpful in making such a difficult decision with so many variables.

Bentham recognized that such Problems of Calculation relating to the pleasure associated with future actions needed addressing in order for Utilitarianism to be a workable moral theory. Bentham, therefore, created the Hedonic Calculus (sometimes known as the Felicific Calculus) in order to help an individual work out how much pleasure would be created by differing possible actions. The Hedonic Calculus, as suggested by Bentham, is based on assessing possible pleasures according to their:

  • Intensity
  • Duration
  • Certainty
  • Remoteness (i.e., how far into the future the pleasure is)
  • Fecundity (i.e., how likely it is that pleasure will generate other related pleasures)
  • Purity (i.e., if any pain will be felt alongside that pleasure)
  • Extent (i.e. how many people might be able to share in that pleasure)

The Hedonic Calculus is therefore supposed to provide a decision procedure for a utilitarian who is confused as to how to act in a morally tricky situation. Thus, our fighter pilot might consider the intensity of the pleasure of surviving versus the duration of the pain of death, while also needing to balance these factors against the relative certainty of the possible pains or pleasures. No doubt, the fighter pilot would still face an agonizing moral choice, but it seems that he would at least have some methodology for working out what Utilitarianism morally requires of him.

Taking it to the streets…

Talk with a friend about a moral decision they recently made or are still pondering. This could be something simple like whether or not to tell a fib.

Guide your friend through Bentham’s Hedonic Calculus. Using a scale of -10 (very negative) to +10 (very positive) record their numbers as you ask them about the following:

Intensity How much pleasure will the choice to fib bring? (-10 none at all, +10 very much)
Duration How long with the pleasure last? (-10 very brief, +10 extremely long)
Certainty How convinced are they the act will be pleasurable? (-10 very doubtful, +10 absolutely certain)
Remoteness How quickly will the pleasure come? (-10 long way off, +10 immediately)
Fecundity How likely will the fib lead to more pleasure? (-10 it won’t, +10 almost certainly will)
Purity How much pain or guilt will accompany the choice to fib? (-10 immense pain, +10 none at all)
Extent How many people will also share in the pleasure? (-10 no others, +10 many others)

When finished, score the exercise. If the total is below 0, you can share with your friend that Bentham would not recommend the fib. If above, tell them that, according to Bentham at least, they should go for it!

Problems with Bentham’s Utilitarianism

However, whether or not measuring possible actions in terms of “units of pleasure” associated with them is actually plausible is very much an open question and so the problem of calculation is not necessarily solved simply by the existence of the Hedonic Calculus. Consider the most recent highly pleasurable experience that you enjoyed and compare it to a highly pleasurable experience from earlier in your life. It may be that you cannot say confidently that one provided more pleasure than the other, especially if the experiences were extremely varied; perhaps winning a sporting trophy versus going on your first holiday. Pleasures that are so fundamentally different in nature may simply be incommensurable — they may be incapable of being measured by a common standard such as the Hedonic Calculus.

In addition, the problem of calculation can be extended beyond the issues raised above. Remember that Bentham’s Utilitarianism is impartial in the sense that all individuals who gain pleasure as a result of a certain action count towards the total amount of pleasure. However, the following case raises the Problem of Relevant Beings:

You are considering whether or not to approve a new housing development on a piece of unoccupied land outside the current boundary of your town. You are clear that, if approved, the development will create a great deal of pleasure for both new residents and construction workers without any pain being experienced by others. You are aware, however, that the development will require the culling of several badgers and the removal of a habitat currently supporting many birds, stray cats, and rodents of various types.

On the surface, this case should be obvious for the utilitarian without any special problem of calculation; the greatest good for the greatest number would be secured if the development were permitted to go ahead. However, this assumes that non-human animals are not relevant to the calculation of pleasures and pains. Yet, if pleasure is all that matters for how well life goes then it is not clear why animals, which may be able to experience some form of pleasure and can almost certainly experience pain, should be excluded from the calculation process. (Dimmock and Fisher, Ch. 1: Utilitarianism)

As you read through the following excerpts from Bentham you might consider how he would advise you regarding the Trolley Problem dilemma.

Excerpts from Bentham’s Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
A photograph of the preserved body of Jeremy Bentham on display in the Student Center of the University College of London
Jeremy Bentham’s “Auto-Icon” at University College London.

Of the Principle of Utility

Chapter I—i. 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 do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it. In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire: but in reality he will remain. subject to it all the while. The principle of utility recognizes this subjection, and assumes it for the foundation of that system, the object of which is to rear the fabric of felicity by the hands of reason and of law. Systems which attempt to question it, deal in sounds instead of sense, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness instead of light.

But enough of metaphor and declamation: it is not by such means that moral science is to be improved.

Chapter I—ii. The principle of utility is the foundation of the present work: it will be proper therefore at the outset to give an explicit and determinate account of what is meant by it. By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever. according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing in other words to promote or to oppose that happiness. I say of every action whatsoever, and therefore not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government.

Chapter I—iii. By utility is meant that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness, (all this in the present case comes to the same thing) or (what comes again to the same thing) to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered: if that party be the community in general, then the happiness of the community: if a particular individual, then the happiness of that individual.

Chapter I—iv. The interest of the community is one of the most general expressions that can occur in the phraseology of morals: no wonder that the meaning of it is often lost. When it has a meaning, it is this. The community is a fictitious body, composed of the individual persons who are considered as constituting as it were its members. The interest of the community then is, what is it?—the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it.

Chapter I—v. It is in vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the interest of the individual. A thing is said to promote the interest, or to be for the interest, of an individual, when it tends to add to the sum total of his pleasures: or, what comes to the same thing, to diminish the sum total of his pains.

Chapter I—vi. An action then may be said to be conformable to then principle of utility, or, for shortness sake, to utility, (meaning with respect to the community at large) when the tendency it has to augment the happiness of the community is greater than any it has to diminish it.

Chapter I—vii. A measure of government (which is but a particular kind of action, performed by a particular person or persons) may be said to be conformable to or dictated by the principle of utility, when in like manner the tendency which it has to augment the happiness of the community is greater than any which it has to diminish it. …

Chapter I—viii. Of an action that is conformable to the principle of utility one may always say either that it is one that ought to be done, or at least that it is not one that ought not to be done. One may say also, that it is right it should be done; at least that it is not wrong it should be done: that it is a right action; at least that it is not a wrong action. When thus interpreted, the words ought, and right and wrong and others of that stamp, have a meaning: when otherwise, they have none. …


Value of a Lot of Pleasure or Pain

Chapter IV—i. Pleasures then, and the avoidance of pains, are the ends that the legislator has in view; it behooves him therefore to understand their value. Pleasures and pains are the instruments he has to work with: it behooves him therefore to understand their force, which is again, in other words, their value.

Chapter IV—ii. To a person considered by himself, the value of a pleasure or pain considered by itself, will be greater or less, according to the four following circumstances:

1. Its intensity.

2. Its duration.

3. Its certainty or uncertainty.

4. Its propinquity or remoteness.

Chapter IV—iii. These are the circumstances which are to be considered in estimating a pleasure or a pain considered each of them by itself. But when the value of any pleasure or pain is considered for the purpose of estimating the tendency of any act by which it is produced, there are two other circumstances to be taken into the account; these are,

5. Its fecundity, or the chance it has of being followed by sensations of the same kind: that is, pleasures, if it be a pleasure: pains, if it be a pain.

6. Its purity, or the chance it has of not being followed by sensations of the opposite kind: that is, pains, if it be a pleasure: pleasures, if it be a pain.

These two last, however, are in strictness scarcely to be deemed properties of the pleasure or the pain itself; they are not, therefore, in strictness to be taken into the account of the value of that pleasure or that pain. They are in strictness to be deemed properties only of the act, or other event, by which such pleasure or pain has been produced; and accordingly are only to be taken into the account of the tendency of such act or such event.

Chapter IV—iv. To a number of persons, with reference to each of whom to the value of a pleasure or a pain is considered, it will be greater or less, according to seven circumstances: to wit, the six preceding ones; viz.

1. Its intensity.

2. Its duration.

3. Its certainty or uncertainty.

4. Its propinquity or remoteness.

5. Its fecundity.

6. Its purity.

And one other; to wit:

7. Its extent;

that is, the number of persons to whom it extends; or (in other words) who are affected by it.

Chapter IV—v. To take an exact account then of the general tendency of any act, by which the interests of a community are affected, proceed as follows. Begin with any one person of those whose interests seem most immediately to be affected by it: and take an account,

1. Of the value of each distinguishable pleasure which appears to be produced by it in the first instance.

2. Of the value of each pain which appears to be produced by it in the first instance.

3. Of the value of each pleasure which appears to be produced by it after the first. This constitutes the fecundity of the first pleasure and the impurity of the first pain.

4. Of the value of each pain which appears to be produced by it after the first. This constitutes the fecundity of the first pain, and the impurity of the first pleasure.

5. Sum up all the values of all the pleasures on the one side, and those of all the pains on the other. The balance, if it be on the side of pleasure, will give the good tendency of the act upon the whole, with respect to the interests of that individual person; if on the side of pain, the bad tendency of it upon the whole.

6. Take an account of the number of persons whose interests appear to be concerned; and repeat the above process with respect to each. Sum up the numbers expressive of the degrees of good tendency, which the act has, with respect to each individual, in regard to whom the tendency of it is good upon the whole: do this again with respect to each individual, in regard to whom the tendency of it is good upon the whole: do this again with respect to each individual, in regard to whom the tendency of it is bad upon the whole. Take the balance which if on the side of pleasure, will give the general good tendency of the act, with respect to the total number or community of individuals concerned; if on the side of pain,the general evil tendency, with respect to the same community.

Chapter IV—vi. It is not to be expected that this process should be strictly pursued previously to every moral judgment, or to every legislative or judicial operation. It may, however, be always kept in view: and as near as the process actually pursued on these occasions approaches to it, so near will such process approach to the character of an exact one.

Chapter IV—vii. The same process is alike applicable to pleasure and pain, in whatever shape they appear: and by whatever denomination they are distinguished: to pleasure, whether it be called good (which is properly the cause or instrument of pleasure) or profit (which is distant pleasure, or the cause or instrument of, distant pleasure,) or convenience, or advantage, benefit, emolument, happiness, and so forth: to pain, whether it be called evil, (which corresponds to good) or mischief, or inconvenience. or disadvantage, or loss, or unhappiness, and so forth. …  (Bentham, in McLaughlin, Ch. 27)

Rule Utilitarianism: Mill

Photograph of John Stuart Mill c. 1870
John Stuart Mill (1806–1873)

John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) was concerned by many of the problems facing the utilitarian theory put forward by Bentham, but as a hedonist, he did not wish to see the theory rejected. Mill sought to refine and improve the Benthamite utilitarian theory in order to create a successful version of Hedonistic Utilitarianism.

Mill was so confident about the prospects for a version of Hedonistic Utilitarianism because he believed that there was empirically backed proof available to support the principle that the greatest happiness/pleasure should always be secured for the greatest number. Mill’s proof, much like Bentham’s empirical defense of Hedonism, relies on evidence from observations that people desire their own happiness. This observation supports Mill’s claim that since people desire their own happiness, this is evidence that such happiness is desirable. Mill says “…each person’s happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons”. Since our happiness is good for us, and general happiness is just the total happiness of all persons, then general happiness is also good. To put it another way, if individual happiness is a good worth pursuing then happiness, in general, must be worth pursuing.

In order to justify Hedonism, Mill sought to justify the claim that the good of happiness is the only thing that makes our lives go better. Mill defends this claim by suggesting that knowledge, health, freedom, etc. are only valuable in so far as they bring about happiness. Knowledge is desired only because it provides happiness when acquired, not because it, by itself and in isolation, makes life go better.

Mill’s proof of Utilitarianism in terms of the general desirability of maximizing total happiness is, however, open to criticism. For one thing, the fact that something is desired does not seem to justify the claim that it is desirable. G. E. Moore (1873–1958) points out that Mill moves from the factual sense that something is desirable if it is desired to the normative sense that it should be desired without any justification. It is possible, for example, to desire to kill another person. This is desirable in the sense people could and do desire it (it is possible to do so — it is an action that is desire-able), but not in the sense that we would want them to desire it.

In addition, the idea that other apparent goods, such as knowledge and health, are only valuable in so far as they promote happiness/pleasure is extremely controversial; can you imagine a situation in which you gained value from knowledge without any associated pleasure or happiness? If so, you may have a counter-example to Mill’s claim.

Mill’s Qualitative Utilitarianism

In attempting to redraw Bentham’s Utilitarianism, Mill’s most substantial thought was to move away from Bentham’s idea that all that mattered was the quantity of total pleasure. Instead, Mill thought that the quality of pleasure was also crucial to deciding what is moral.

Bentham’s Utilitarianism is quantitative in the sense that all Bentham focuses on is the maximization of hedonically calculated quantities of total pleasure. Thus, he says that “Prejudice apart, the game of push-pin is of equal value with the arts and sciences of music and poetry”. All that matters for Bentham is that choices produce pleasure and the way this is achieved is unimportant. If playing on a console affords you more pleasure than reading Shakespeare, then Bentham would view your life as going better if you play on the console. However, Mill introduces a quality criterion for pleasure. Mill says that:

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question.

Ponder if you will….

Think about the life experienced by your cat or dog. In many ways, its life seems ideal. It has all it needs to eat and drink. It gets your attention and affirmation. It gets to sleep as much as it wants. It has all it could ever need or want.

Now consider, if it were possible to trade places with your pet, would you do so? Why or why not?

Bentham could not admit that the unhappy Socrates would be living a life with more value than the happier fool. Mill, on the other hand, believes that quality, not merely quantity, of pleasure matters and can therefore defend the claim that Socrates has a better life even by hedonistic standards.

According to Mill, higher pleasures are worth more than lower pleasures. Higher pleasures are those pleasures of the intellect brought about via activities like poetry, reading, or attending the theatre. Lower pleasures are animalistic and base; pleasures associated with drinking beer, having sex, or lazing on a sun-lounger. What we should seek to maximize are the higher quality pleasures even if the total pleasure (hedonically calculated via Bentham’s calculus) turns out to be quantitatively lower as a result. Justifying this distinction between higher and lower quality pleasures as non-arbitrary and not just an expression of his own tastes, Mill says that competent judges, those people who have experienced both types of pleasure, are best placed to select which pleasures are higher and lower. Such competent judges, says Mill, would and do favor pleasures of the intellect over the base pleasures of the body. On this basis, Mill is open to the criticism that many people have both read books and drunk beer and that if given the choice would choose the latter. Whether or not Mill’s defense of his supposedly non-prejudiced distinction of higher and lower pleasures is successful is an open question for your evaluation and analysis.

Mill’s Rule Utilitarianism versus Bentham’s Act Utilitarianism

In addition to a difference in views regarding the importance of the quality of pleasure, Mill and Bentham are also separated by reference to Act and Rule Utilitarianism and although such terms emerged only after Mill’s death, Mill is typically considered a rule utilitarian and Bentham an act utilitarian.

Act Utilitarians, such as Bentham, focus only on the consequences of individual actions when making moral judgments. However, this focus on the outcome of individual acts can sometimes lead to odd and objection-raising examples. Judith Jarvis Thomson (1929–2020) (as we saw in the video at the beginning of section 4.0) raised the problem of the “transplant surgeon”.

Imagine a case where a doctor had five patients requiring new organs to stop their death and one healthy patient undergoing a routine check. In this case, it would seem that total pleasure is best promoted by killing one healthy patient, harvesting his organs, and saving the other five lives; their pleasure outweighs the cost to the formerly healthy patient.

While Bentham does suggest that we should have “rules of thumb” against such actions, for typically they will lead to unforeseen painful consequences, in the case as simply described the act utilitarian appears powerless to deny that such a killing is required in order to maximize total pleasure (just add your own details to secure this conclusion for the act utilitarian).

Rule Utilitarians, in whose camp we can place Mill, adopt a different moral decision procedure. Their view is that we should create a set of rules that, if followed, would produce the greatest amount of total happiness. In the transplant case, killing the healthy man would not seem to be part of the best set of utilitarian-justified rules since a rule allowing the killing of healthy patients would not seem to promote total happiness; one outcome, for example, would be that people would very likely stop coming to hospitals for fear for their life! Therefore, if a rule permitting killing was allowed then the maximization of total happiness would not be promoted overall.

It is through Rule Utilitarianism that we can make sense of Mill’s “harm principle”. According to Mill, there is:

…one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control.

That principle is:

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.

Even if a particular act of harming another person might bring about an increase in total pleasure on a single occasion, that act may not be condoned by the set of rules that best promotes total pleasure overall. As such, the action would not be morally permitted.

Strong versus Weak Rule Utilitarianism

Rule Utilitarians may seem to avoid troubling cases like the transplant surgeon and be able to support and uphold individual human and legal rights based on rules that reflect the harm principle. This fact would also help rule Utilitarians overcome objections based on the treatment of minorities because the exploitation of minority groups would, perhaps, fail to be supported by the best utilitarian-justified set of rules. Yet, rule Utilitarians face a troubling dilemma:

Strong Rule Utilitarianism: Guidance from the set of rules that, if followed, would promote the greatest amount of total happiness must always be followed.

Weak Rule Utilitarianism: Guidance from the set of rules that, if followed, would promote the greatest amount of total happiness can be ignored in circumstances where more happiness would be produced by breaking the rule.

Ponder if you will….

Considering Mill’s “harm principle,” was dropping atomic bombs on the two Japanese cities during World War II justified? Remember to look at “both sides of the issue.”

The strong rule utilitarian appears to suffer from what J. J. C. Smart (1920–2012) described as “Rule Worship.” No longer focusing on the consequences of the action before them, the strong rule utilitarian appears to ignore the option to maximize total happiness in favor of following a general and non-relative rule regarding how to act. The strong rule utilitarian may be able to avoid problems based on the treatment of minorities or a lack of absolute legal and human rights, but it is not clear that they survive these problems by holding on to a teleological, relativistic utilitarian theory. Utilitarianism seems to be saved from troubling implications only by denying core features.

On the other hand, while Weak Rule Utilitarianism retains a teleological nature it appears to collapse into Act Utilitarianism. The rules provide guidelines that can be broken and given that the act utilitarian can also offer “rules of thumb” against actions that tend not to produce maximum goodness or utility in general, such as killing healthy patients, it is not clear where this version of Rule Utilitarianism gains a unique identity. In what cases would Act Utilitarianism and Weak Rule Utilitarianism actually provide different moral guidance? This is something you should consider in light of your own examples or previous examples in this chapter. (Mark Dimmock and Andrew Fisher, Ethics for A-Level. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers)

Taking it to the streets…

Ask five people: Is being happy the greatest good a human can experience? Why or why not? Do you believe we have a moral duty to be as happy as possible? Do we have a moral duty to promote societal happiness? Why or why not?

What commonalities do you notice among the responses? Which response stands out to you as the strongest? Which response is the weakest?

In the following excerpt, does Mill offer a better way than Bentham to solve the Trolley Problem?
Excerpts from John Stuart Mill’s  Utilitarianism

Chapter 2: What Utilitarianism Is

…The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain, by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure. To give a clear view of the moral standard set up by the theory, much more requires to be said; in particular, what things it includes in the ideas of pain and pleasure; and to what extent this is left an open question. But these supplementary explanations do not affect the theory of life on which this theory of morality is grounded- namely, that pleasure, and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends; and that all desirable things (which are as numerous in the utilitarian as in any other scheme) are desirable either for the pleasure inherent in themselves, or as means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain.

Now, such a theory of life excites in many minds, and among them in some of the most estimable in feeling and purpose, inveterate dislike. To suppose that life has (as they express it) no higher end than pleasure- no better and nobler object of desire and pursuit they designate as utterly mean and groveling; as a doctrine worthy only of swine, to whom the followers of Epicurus were, at a very early period, contemptuously likened; and modern holders of the doctrine are occasionally made the subject of equally polite comparisons by its German, French, and English assailants.

A statue of the Head of Epicurus. Roman copy of the Imperial era (AD 2nd century) after a Greek original of the 1st half of the 3rd century BC.
Epicurus (341–270 BC)

When thus attacked, the Epicureans have always answered, that it is not they, but their accusers, who represent human nature in a degrading light; since the accusation supposes human beings to be capable of no pleasures except those of which swine are capable. If this supposition were true, the charge could not be gainsaid, but would then be no longer an imputation; for if the sources of pleasure were precisely the same to human beings and to swine, the rule of life which is good enough for the one would be good enough for the other. The comparison of the Epicurean life to that of beasts is felt as degrading, precisely because a beast’s pleasures do not satisfy a human being’s conceptions of happiness. Human beings have faculties more elevated than the animal appetites, and when once made conscious of them, do not regard anything as happiness which does not include their gratification. I do not, indeed, consider the Epicureans to have been by any means faultless in drawing out their scheme of consequences from the utilitarian principle. To do this in any sufficient manner, many Stoic, as well as Christian elements require to be included. But there is no known Epicurean theory of life that does not assign to the pleasures of the intellect, of the feelings and imagination, and of the moral sentiments, a much higher value as pleasures than to those of mere sensation. It must be admitted, however, that utilitarian writers in general have placed the superiority of mental over bodily pleasures chiefly in the greater permanency, safety, uncostliness, etc., of the former- that is, in their circumstantial advantages rather than in their intrinsic nature. And on all these points Utilitarians have fully proved their case; but they might have taken the other, and, as it may be called, higher ground, with entire consistency. It is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognize the fact, that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others. It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone.

Ponder if you will….

Epicurus was an ancient hedonist who taught humans ought to seek to live a tranquil life by doing everything possible to avoid pain and augment pleasure. His philosophy is practiced by some still today.

Can you think of forms of happiness higher than physical pleasures like tasting good food, lying on a beach, or sleeping in? Is Epicurus right, are these the highest good for us?

Or is Mill correct by saying that even animals can experience these things, but for humans, there are higher forms of pleasure or happiness that no animals can access?

If I am asked, what I mean by difference of quality in pleasures, or what makes one pleasure more valuable than another, merely as a pleasure, except its being greater in amount, there is but one possible answer. Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure. If one of the two is, by those who are competently acquainted with both, placed so far above the other that they prefer it, even though knowing it to be attended with a greater amount of discontent, and would not resign it for any quantity of the other pleasure which their nature is capable of, we are justified in ascribing to the preferred enjoyment a superiority in quality, so far outweighing quantity as to render it, in comparison, of small account.

Now it is an unquestionable fact that those who are equally acquainted with, and equally capable of appreciating and enjoying, both, do give a most marked preference to the manner of existence which employs their higher faculties. Few human creatures would consent to be changed into any of the lower animals, for a promise of the fullest allowance of a beast’s pleasures; no intelligent human being would consent to be a fool, no instructed person would be an ignoramus, no person of feeling and conscience would be selfish and base, even though they should be persuaded that the fool, the dunce, or the rascal is better satisfied with his lot than they are with theirs. They would not resign what they possess more than he for the most complete satisfaction of all the desires which they have in common with him. If they ever fancy they would, it is only in cases of unhappiness so extreme, that to escape from it they would exchange their lot for almost any other, however undesirable in their own eyes. A being of higher faculties requires more to make him happy, is capable probably of more acute suffering, and certainly accessible to it at more points, than one of an inferior type; but in spite of these liabilities, he can never really wish to sink into what he feels to be a lower grade of existence. We may give what explanation we please of this unwillingness; we may attribute it to pride, a name which is given indiscriminately to some of the most and to some of the least estimable feelings of which mankind are capable: we may refer it to the love of liberty and personal independence, an appeal to which was with the Stoics one of the most effective means for the inculcation of it; to the love of power, or to the love of excitement, both of which do really enter into and contribute to it: but its most appropriate appellation is a sense of dignity, which all human beings possess in one form or other, and in some, though by no means in exact, proportion to their higher faculties, and which is so essential a part of the happiness of those in whom it is strong, that nothing which conflicts with it could be, otherwise than momentarily, an object of desire to them.

Whoever supposes that this preference takes place at a sacrifice of happiness- that the superior being, in anything like equal circumstances, is not happier than the inferior- confounds the two very different ideas, of happiness, and content. It is indisputable that the being whose capacities of enjoyment are low, has the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied; and a highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness which he can look for, as the world is constituted, is imperfect. But he can learn to bear its imperfections, if they are at all bearable; and they will not make him envy the being who is indeed unconscious of the imperfections, but only because he feels not at all the good which those imperfections qualify. It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides.

It may be objected, that many who are capable of the higher pleasures, occasionally, under the influence of temptation, postpone them to the lower. But this is quite compatible with a full appreciation of the intrinsic superiority of the higher. Men often, from infirmity of character, make their election for the nearer good, though they know it to be the less valuable; and this no less when the choice is between two bodily pleasures, than when it is between bodily and mental. They pursue sensual indulgences to the injury of health, though perfectly aware that health is the greater good.

It may be further objected, that many who begin with youthful enthusiasm for everything noble, as they advance in years sink into indolence and selfishness. But I do not believe that those who undergo this very common change, voluntarily choose the lower description of pleasures in preference to the higher. I believe that before they devote themselves exclusively to the one, they have already become incapable of the other. Capacity for the nobler feelings is in most natures a very tender plant, easily killed, not only by hostile influences, but by mere want of sustenance; and in the majority of young persons it speedily dies away if the occupations to which their position in life has devoted them, and the society into which it has thrown them, are not favorable to keeping that higher capacity in exercise. Men lose their high aspirations as they lose their intellectual tastes, because they have not time or opportunity for indulging them; and they addict themselves to inferior pleasures, not because they deliberately prefer them, but because they are either the only ones to which they have access, or the only ones which they are any longer capable of enjoying. It may be questioned whether anyone who has remained equally susceptible to both classes of pleasures, ever knowingly and calmly preferred the lower; though many, in all ages, have broken down in an ineffectual attempt to combine both.

From this verdict of the only competent judges, I apprehend there can be no appeal. On a question which is the best worth having of two pleasures, or which of two modes of existence is the most grateful to the feelings, apart from its moral attributes and from its consequences, the judgment of those who are qualified by knowledge of both, or, if they differ, that of the majority among them, must be admitted as final. And there needs be the less hesitation to accept this judgment respecting the quality of pleasures, since there is no other tribunal to be referred to even on the question of quantity. What means are there of determining which is the acutest of two pains, or the intensest of two pleasurable sensations, except the general suffrage of those who are familiar with both? Neither pains nor pleasures are homogeneous, and pain is always heterogeneous with pleasure. What is there to decide whether a particular pleasure is worth purchasing at the cost of a particular pain, except the feelings and judgment of the experienced? When, therefore, those feelings and judgment declare the pleasures derived from the higher faculties to be preferable in kind, apart from the question of intensity, to those of which the animal nature, disjoined from the higher faculties, is susceptible, they are entitled on this subject to the same regard.

I have dwelt on this point, as being a necessary part of a perfectly just conception of Utility or Happiness, considered as the directive rule of human conduct. But it is by no means an indispensable condition to the acceptance of the utilitarian standard; for that standard is not the agent’s own greatest happiness, but the greatest amount of happiness altogether; and if it may possibly be doubted whether noble character is always the happier for its nobleness, there can be no doubt that it makes other people happier, and that the world in general is immensely a gainer by it. Utilitarianism, therefore, could only attain its end by the general cultivation of nobleness of character, even if each individual were only benefited by the nobleness of others, and his own, so far as happiness is concerned, were a sheer deduction from the benefit. But the bare enunciation of such an absurdity as this last, renders refutation superfluous.

Ponder if you will….

Many people today believe that animals are part of the “sentient creation” that Mill mentions here and as a result, should be recipients of the Greater Happiness Principle. After reading this paragraph, do you think Mill would agree with them? Why or why not?

What is your opinion? Is there a moral duty to maximize animals’ pleasure? Why or why not?

What does your opinion infer about the consuming of animals for food or clothing?

According to the Greatest Happiness Principle, as above explained, the ultimate end, with reference to and for the sake of which all other things are desirable (whether we are considering our own good or that of other people), is an existence exempt as far as possible from pain, and as rich as possible in enjoyments, both in point of quantity and quality; the test of quality, and the rule for measuring it against quantity, being the preference felt by those who in their opportunities of experience, to which must be added their habits of self-consciousness and self- observation, are best furnished with the means of comparison. This, being, according to the utilitarian opinion, the end of human action, is necessarily also the standard of morality; which may accordingly be defined, the rules and precepts for human conduct, by the observance of which an existence such as has been described might be, to the greatest extent possible, secured to all mankind; and not to them only, but, so far as the nature of things admits, to the whole sentient creation.

…I must again repeat, what the assailants of utilitarianism seldom have the justice to acknowledge, that the happiness which forms the utilitarian standard of what is right in conduct, is not the agent’s own happiness, but that of all concerned. As between his own happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator. In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth, we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility. To do as you would be done by, and to love your neighbor as yourself, constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality. As the means of making the nearest approach to this ideal, utility would enjoin, first, that laws and social arrangements should place the happiness, or (as speaking practically it may be called) the interest, of every individual, as nearly as possible in harmony with the interest of the whole; and secondly, that education and opinion, which have so vast a power over human character, should so use that power as to establish in the mind of every individual an indissoluble association between his own happiness and the good of the whole; especially between his own happiness and the practice of such modes of conduct, negative and positive, as regard for the universal happiness prescribes; so that not only he may be unable to conceive the possibility of happiness to himself, consistently with conduct opposed to the general good, but also that a direct impulse to promote the general good may be in every individual one of the habitual motives of action, and the sentiments connected therewith may fill a large and prominent place in every human being’s sentient existence. If the impugners of the utilitarian morality represented it to their own minds in this its, true character, I know not what recommendation possessed by any other morality they could possibly affirm to be wanting to it; what more beautiful or more exalted developments of human nature any other ethical system can be supposed to foster, or what springs of action, not accessible to the utilitarian, such systems rely on for giving effect to their mandates….

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Utilitarian Approach

Here are some of the main strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism as an ethical approach:


  1. Utlitarianism offers an objective calculus for determining moral value based on the specific consequences of actions.  In attempting an impartial, consequentialist metric for ethics, utilitarianism aims admirably at maximizing social benefit but risks counterintuitive and morally questionable implications in many situational applications.
  2. It’s goal of maximizing utility (typically defined as welfare, happiness, or well-being) seems like an important moral outcome.  Importantly, utilitarianism focuses on harm. Since pain is evil, it is immoral to harm another. Since what it means to harm someone is a fairly objective observation, laws can be created that punish those who harm others and thus create a less happy society.
  3. It provides clear guidance in choosing courses of action that maximize social utility.
  4. It values all people impartially, rather than biased options favoring specific groups.  One of the strengths of Utilitarianism is its impartiality concerning moral decisions. Mill believed that an educated populace that considers all the possible data would make the best moral decisions based on utility. The process of decision-making was based on open and passionate debate and was settled when a rational consensus was reached. This process requires a highly educated society and Mill supported a free educational system.


  1. It seems quite difficult to reliably predict long term consequences of individual actions on overall utility.  Kant critiques consequentialism by claiming that we cannot know what the true results will be of our moral decisions. This is especially true with very complicated moral dilemmas. There are so many variables that it is nearly impossible to make the right choice since we often cannot get all the necessary data. Does this also mean that only very smart people can be truly moral?
  2. Utilitarian “compromising” ethics disturb many people’s moral intuitions. For example, severely harming an innocent person may be permitted by utilitarians if it maximizes the greater good.
  3. Utilitarianism struggles to appreciate the importance of individual moral rights that protect minorities from the majority.
  4. Concepts like “happiness” or “welfare” involve subjective elements resisting straightforward quantification or comparison.


Works Cited

CrashCourse. Utilitarianism: Crash Course Philosophy #36. YouTube, YouTube, 21 Nov. 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a739VjqdSI&list=PLUHoo4L8qXthO958RfdrAL8XAHvk5xuu9&index=36&t=98s. Accessed 5 Apr. 2022.

“Head of Epicurus.” Wikimedia Commons, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2nd century AD, https://et.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fail:Epikouros_Met_11.90.jpg. Accessed 16 May 2022.

London Stereoscopic Company. “John Stuart Mill.” Wikimedia Commons, Hulton Archive, 1870, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Stuart_Mill_by_London_Stereoscopic_Company,_c1870.jpg. Accessed 16 May 2022.

Pickersgill, Henry William. “Portrait of Jeremy Bentham.” Wikimedia Commons, 1829, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jeremy_Bentham_by_Henry_William_Pickersgill.jpg. Accessed 16 May 2022.

Reeve, Michael. “Jeremy Bentham’s ‘Auto-Icon’ at University College London.” Wikimedia Commons, 2 Sept. 2003, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jeremy_Bentham_Auto-Icon.jpg.


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PPSC PHI 1011: The Philosopher's Quest by Daniel G. Shaw, Ph.D. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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