Mill vs. Bentham

2787 Words Dec 1st, 2006 12 Pages
In what ways did John Stuart Mill's version of utilitarianism differ from that of Jeremy Bentham? Which do you consider preferable?

The Cambridge International Dictionary of English defines utilitarianism as "the system of thought which states that the best action or decision in a particular situation is the one which most benefits the most people". This is the main idea of the system of thought and it is from this the beliefs and opinions of John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873), Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832) and other early utilitarians were developed. Jeremy Bentham, a friend of J. S. Mill's father and the mentor of J. S. Mill, is usually considered the founder of British utilitarianism. J. S. Mill adapted Bentham's ideas and philosophies to
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He spent much of his time engaged in intense study, sometimes eight to twelve hours a day and by his death he had written tens of thousands manuscripts on many subjects. In 1808 he met James Mill, John Stuart Mill's father, who fully supported Bentham's ideas on utilitarianism. Bentham founded a group of intellectual philosophers called the ‘Philosophical Radicals', or simply the ‘Benthamites', of which James Mill became a prominent member along with David Ricardo, George Grote and John Austin. Bentham and James Mill founded the Westminster Review, which aimed to propagate Radical views and to oppose the Whig supporting Edinburgh Review and the Tory Quarterly Review. It was in this publication that much of J. S. Mill's work was presented, although he also wrote for other newspapers and journals including the Morning Chronicle and Parliamentary History & Review. By the 1820's Bentham had become a widely respected figure both in Britain and other parts of the world and many of his ideas continue to be at the centre of academic debate.

Bentham's work is still considered to be the true basis of the utilitarian philosophy. His most influential works, in terms of how much they influenced the Victorian reform, are An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789), widely considered