Therefore, Utilitarianism is consequentialism - the morality of an action depended on its outcome, and on nothing else. Utility is happiness or pleasure, and suffering is disutility. Elements of the doctrine of Utilitarianism can be traced back to the Greek philosopher, Epicurus, although Jeremy Bentham is generally credited as the original propounder of this doctrine. "Nature", said Bentham, "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..." (Bentham, 1789, Ch I, p 1)
Whatever brought the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people was good, according to Bentham. And this was the starting point for John Mill, in his Utilitarianism. First, let us look at the theory as expounded by Mill, and then follow it up by an examination of its validity.
Mill stated that "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. ...Show more