What Is the Difference Between Mill’s Qualitative Hedonism and Bentham’s Quantitative Hedonism? Which Is More Plausible as a Theory of Well-Being?
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What is the difference between Mill’s qualitative hedonism and Bentham’s quantitative hedonism? Which is more plausible as a theory of well-being?
Hedonism is the idea that well-being of people comes about through pleasure. Pure hedonism is the thought that it arises through and only through pleasure and both Bentham and Mill advocate different approaches for which hedonism may be the basis of human well-being. Both Philosophers then go on to construct theories of morality on the basis of this idea such that what should be maximised in a moral dilemma is the cumulative welfare of all individuals as measured by their particular approach for deciphering which course of action will yield the most well-being for all. However, the focus of…show more content… Smart argues that ‘happiness’ suggests a level of approval for the person that is ‘happy’. In the example I gave above, though the old colleagues of the scientist can see that the scientist is leading a pleasurable life, they would be unlikely to describe him as ‘happy’ due to their disdain and regret for this life he has chosen. Moreover, ‘happiness’ tends to draw focus to the idea of the pleasure being over time for example reading poetry over playing pushpin is more likely to lead to long term contentment and happiness in one’s life. This semantic peculiarity does not add much to the theory of Mill in contrast to Bentham but rather seems to intuitively highlight the significant differences between them.
There also seems to be a distinction between Bentham and Mill as to what constitutes well-being in relation to pleasure. Both philosophers are hedonists and advocate the idea that without pleasure, well-being is not achieved. However, Bentham’s approach is directly experiential: a person’s well-being correlates exactly to the pleasure that that person experiences. Mill clearly disagrees with such a view as he argues that in some cases – those of higher pleasures – an experience with less pleasure than another can still bring about more well-being. This phenomenon would be impossible in Bentham’s theory and has led many to conclude that Mill clearly values something for wellbeing other than simply