What is Jeremy Bentham's Theory of Utilitarianism?

Jeremy Bentham's Theory of Utilitarianism 

What is Jeremy Bentham's Theory of Utilitarianism?


Jeremy Betham was born in 1748 AD in England. His father was an attorney and a rich man. Bentham was fond of reading at an early age. Therefore, he got a quality education. 

Practising Law 

More precisely, he studied law after which he started practising law under the observation of his father. However, he felt that he was a misfit. Therefore, he left the practice of law. 

Important Book

He spent his entire life in reading and writing. He not only wrote books, he also wrote laws for different states. His most important book is “An Introduction to The Principles of Morals and Legislation”

Also Read: Aligarh Movement: Background, Services and Importance

Bentham’s Theory of Utilitarianism

Bentham’s theory of utilitarianism is also called the theory of pain and pleasure. 

Context of Theory

  1. Bentham was living at a time when different major political developments were taking place in Europe. The Glorias Revolution took place in 1688 AD in England. 
  2. In this revolution, the Monarch was removed and he went into exile. This revolution took place without any war. As a result, the parliament became more powerful. In 1776, the US Revolution took place. 
  3. Furthermore, the French Revolution also occurred. As a result, the people ended the Monarchy and a National Assembly was established. 
  4. Overall, the monarchy was abolished in Britain, the US, and France, and the parliament became powerful. 
  5. The Monarch considered his source for creating law as his divine right. And he had no worries about the impact of his law on the people. 
  6. The source of the law is to determine the quality of the law. Therefore, the Parliament said that the quality of the law should be measured by its impact on the people, not the source of the law.
  7. According to Bentham, if a law creates pleasure in people it is a good law, and if it creates pain in the people then it is a bad law. 
  8. In other words, it was Bentham who advised the parliament to create such laws which create pleasure in the people and avoid pain among them. Therefore, Bentham advised the parliament on how to make the laws.


Human Nature

According to Bentham, man is under the control of two masters pain and pleasure. But he avoided pain and loved pleasure. 

The sense of good and bad is gained from pain and pleasure. 

Felicifc Calculus

It is the formula given by Bentham, which is used to measure pain and pleasure. The following are the factors which he used for the measurement of pleasure and pain:


More intense pleasure is preferable to weaker pleasure


A pleasure that is lost is preferable to those that don’t


If the act guarantees a pleasure that is better than one that nearly makes pleasure. 


Pleasure is far off in space or time the ACT is less right.


The likelihood that the pleasure or pain will be followed by more pleasure or pain.


A pleasure that is mixed with pain is not as good as one that is just pleasure.


The more people will enjoy the pleasure the better the law.

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