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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.

S Mill has diverged from Benthams


Utilitarianism
-:Project Report on:-

Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams Utilitarianism
Submitted to

Ms. Anukriti Mishra


(Faculty Member in Jurisprudence)

Submitted by

Nirvikalp Shukla
B. A. LL. B. (Hons.) Student
Semester V, Section C, Roll No. 105

Hidayatullah National Law University


Uparwara Post, Abhanpur, New Raipur 493661 (C.G.)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
Utilitarianism

I feel highly elated to get to work on the topic Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged
from Benthams Utilitarianism. The practical realization of this project has obligated the
assistance of many persons. I express my deepest regard and gratitude for Ms Anukriti Mishra,
faculty of Jurisprudence. Her consistent supervision, constant inspiration and invaluable guidance
have been an immense help in understanding and carrying out the nuances of this project report.

I would also like extend my hand of gratitude towards the friends and family, without whose
support and encouragement this project would not have been a reality.
I take this opportunity to thank the university, and the Honorable Vice Chancellor for providing
extensive database resources in the library and through Internet.
For any sort of errors that might have crept in, it is deeply regretted. I shall be grateful if further
comments and suggestions are put forth regarding improvisation of the provisions.

~Nirvikalp Shukla
~Semester- 5th , Year- 3rd
~Section- C, Roll No.- 105

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
Utilitarianism

Acknowledgements
1. Introduction.. 4
1.1

Topic: A Contextual Outline.....4

1.2

Objectives of the Study.....6

1.3

Scope of the Study....6

1.4

Methodology of Study..6

1.5

Organization

of

2.

What is Utilitarianism..7

3.

Benthams Utilitarianism.....8

4.

Mills Utilitarianism....10

5.

Difference between Mills and Benthams Utilitarianism...12

6.

Observation/Concluding remarks... .14

7.

References...15

Introduction:
Topic: Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams Utilitarianism

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the

PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
Utilitarianism
At the very outset, I would like to make it clear that this project report is basically a study of the
concept of utilitarianism as propounded by Jeremy Bentham and J.S Mill and the divergence of
J.S Mill from Benthams Utilitarianism.
Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics holding that the best moral action is the one that
maximizes utility. Utility is defined in various ways, but is usually related to the wellbeing of sentient entities. Originally, Jeremy Bentham, the founder of Utilitarianism, defined
utility as the aggregate pleasure after deducting suffering of all involved in any action. John
Stuart Mill expanded this concept of utility to include not only the quantity, but quality of
pleasure, while focusing on rules, instead of individual moral actions. Others have rejected that
pleasure has positive value and have advocated negative utilitarianism, which defines utility only
in terms of suffering. As opposed to this hedonistic view, some define utility with relation
to preference satisfaction whereas others believe that a range of values can be included in its
definition.
Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism, which states that the consequences of any action
are the only standard of right and wrong. This view can be contrasted or combined with virtue
ethics which holds virtue as a moral good. Some believe that one's intentions are also ethically
important. Utilitarianism is distinctly different from other forms of consequentialism such
as egoism as it considers all interests equally. Proponents of utilitarianism have been split about
whether individual acts should conform to utility (act utilitarianism) or whether agents should
conform to ethical rules (rule utilitarianism). Utilitarians additionally remain split about whether
utility should be calculated as an aggregate (total utilitarianism) or an average (average
utilitarianism).1
Basically, Utilitarianism is mainly characterized by two elements: happiness and
consequentialism. Utilitarian happiness is the biggest happiness which (supposetly) every human
being looks for. In utilitarianism everything useful to happiness is good. Therefore, the name of
the doctrine is utilitarianism, based on the principle of utility. And, according to this concept of
1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism
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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
Utilitarianism
utilitarianism, utility is found in every thing which contributes to the happiness of every rational
being.

So, now that we have known something about Utilitarianism as a concept, we can proceed to
deal with the Project Report in detail.

SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES


Objective of the study:
The basic objective behind this project report Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged
from Benthams Utilitarianism is to understand and know in detail about the concept of
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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
Utilitarianism
utilitarianism as propounded by Bentham and J.S Mill and also how J.S Mill diverged from
Benthams Utilitarianism.
Scope of the Study:
The scope of the study is very wide as we are dealing with one of the popular and discussed
about theory of the world. This project report basically deals with the concept of utilitarianism
and how J.S Mill diverged from Benthams Utilitarianism.
Research Methodology:
The research conducted has been supplemented by secondary sources. It has been complimented
by the use of books and articles. The methodology adopted has tried to incubate objective results,
however, subjectivity has been respected.
Organisation of the study:
The study/report has been organized into six sections. The first section deals with the
introduction of the topic followed by objectives and methodology adopted for carrying out the
study. The second section deals with the basic knowledge about the concept of Utilitarianism
and how it was evloved. The third section discusses Benthams Utilitarianism. The fourth
section deals with J.S Mills Utilitarianism. The fifth section deals with the divergence of J.S
Mill from Benthams Utilitariansim. The final section deals with the concluding
observations/suggestions.

What is Utilitarianism:
Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics holding that the best moral action is the one that
maximizes utility. Utility is defined in various ways, but is usually related to the wellbeing of sentient entities. Originally, Jeremy Bentham, the founder of Utilitarianism, defined
utility as the aggregate pleasure after deducting suffering of all involved in any action. John
Stuart Mill expanded this concept of utility to include not only the quantity, but quality of
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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
Utilitarianism
pleasure, while focusing on rules, instead of individual moral actions. Others have rejected that
pleasure has positive value and have advocated negative utilitarianism, which defines utility only
in terms of suffering. As opposed to this hedonistic view, some define utility with relation
to preference satisfaction whereas others believe that a range of values can be included in its
definition.
Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism, which states that the consequences of any action
are the only standard of right and wrong. This view can be contrasted or combined with virtue
ethics which holds virtue as a moral good. Some believe that one's intentions are also ethically
important. Utilitarianism is distinctly different from other forms of consequentialism such
as egoism as it considers all interests equally. Proponents of utilitarianism have been split about
whether individual acts should conform to utility (act utilitarianism) or whether agents should
conform to ethical rules (rule utilitarianism). Utilitarians additionally remain split about whether
utility should be calculated as an aggregate (total utilitarianism) or an average (average
utilitarianism).2
Basically, Utilitarianism is mainly characterized by two elements: happiness and
consequentialism. Utilitarian happiness is the biggest happiness which (supposetly) every human
being looks for. In utilitarianism everything useful to happiness is good. Therefore, the name of
the doctrine is utilitarianism, based on the principle of utility. And, according to this concept of
utilitarianism, utility is found in every thing which contributes to the happiness of every rational
being.3

Jeremy Benthams Utilitarianism:

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism
3 http://utilitarianphilosophy.com/definition.eng.html
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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
Utilitarianism
Jeremy Bentham was born in Houndsditch, London on 15 February 1748. He was the eldest son
of Alicia Whitehorn, ne Grove, who on 3 October 1745 had entered into he second marriage
with Jeremiah Bentham, a successful practitioner in the Court of Chancery.
Jeremy Bentham is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. Bentham defined as the
"fundamental axiom" of his philosophy the principle that "it is the greatest happiness of the
greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong".4
Bentham's ambition in life was to create a "Pannomion", a complete utilitarian code of law. He
not only proposed many legal and social reforms, but also expounded an underlying moral
principle on which they should be based. This philosophy of utilitarianism took for its
"fundamental axiom", it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of
right and wrong".5 Bentham claimed to have borrowed this concept from the writings of Joseph
Priestley,6 although the closest that Priestley in fact came to expressing it was in the form "the
good and happiness of the members, that is the majority of the members of any state, is the great
standard by which every thing relating to that state must finally be determined".7
The "greatest happiness principle", or the principle of utility, forms the cornerstone of all
Bentham's thought. By "happiness", he understood a predominance of "pleasure" over "pain". He
wrote in The Principles of Morals and Legislation:
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 ...8
4 Burns, J.H (2005). "Happiness and utility: Jeremy Bentham's equation". Utilitas 17: 4661.
5 Bentham, Jeremy (1776). A Fragment on Government. London., Preface (2nd para.).
6 Bentham, Jeremy (1821). On the Liberty of the Press, and Public Discussion. London. p. 24.
7 Priestley, Joseph (1768). An Essay on the First Principles of Government. London. p. 17
8 Bentham, Jeremy (1789). The Principles of Morals and Legislation. p. 1.
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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
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He also suggested a procedure for estimating the moral status of any action, which he called the
Hedonistic or felicific calculus. Utilitarianism was revised and expanded by Bentham's
student John Stuart Mill. In Mill's hands, "Benthamism" became a major element in
the liberal conception of state policy objectives. Having said that, let us now move to J.S Mills
concept of Utilitarianism.

J.S. Mills Utilitarianism:

John Stuart Mill was born in London in 1806. His father, James Mill, historian of India and
radical writer for the utilitarian cause, supervised his rigorous education from the age of three
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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
Utilitarianism
onwards. In 1823 he followed his father into the East India Office, starting as a clerk and
eventually becoming Chief Examiner in 1856.
Mill was brought up as a Benthamite with the explicit intention that would carry on the cause of
utilitarianism. Raised by his father, the philosopher James Mill, on strictly Benthamite
principles, Mill devoted his life to the defence and promotion of the general welfare. With the
help his long-time companion Harriet Taylor, Mill became a powerful champion of lofty moral
and social ideals.
Mill's Utilitarianism (1861) is an extended explanation of utilitarian moral theory. In an effort to
respond to criticisms of the doctrine, Mill not only argued in favor of the basic principles
of Jeremy Bentham but also offered several significant improvements to its structure, meaning,
and application. Although the progress of moral philosophy has been limited by its endless
disputes over the reality and nature of the highest good, Mill assumed from the outset, everyone
can agree that the consequences of human actions contribute importantly to their moral value.9
Mill fully accepted Bentham's devotion to greatest happiness principle as the basic statement
of utilitarian value:
" . . . 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." (Utilitarianism II)
But he did not agree that all differences among pleasures can be quantified. On Mill's view, some
kinds of pleasure experienced by human beings also differ from each other in qualitative ways,
and only those who have experienced pleasure of both sorts are competent judges of their
relative quality. This establishes the moral worth of promoting higher (largely intellectual)
pleasures among sentient beings even when their momentary intensity may be less than that of
alternative lower (largely bodily) pleasures. Even so, Mill granted that the positive achievement
of happiness is often difficult, so that we are often justified morally in seeking primarily to
9 http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/5q.htm
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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
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reduce the total amount of pain experienced by sentient beings affected by our actions. Painor
even the sacrifice of pleasureis warranted on Mill's view only when it results directly in the
greater good of all.
Mill's argument comprises five chapters. His first chapter serves as an introduction to the essay.
In his second chapter, Mill discusses the definition of utilitarianism, and presents some
misconceptions about the theory. The third chapter is a discussion about the ultimate sanctions
(or rewards) that utilitarianism can offer. The fourth chapter discusses methods of proving the
validity of utilitarianism. In his fifth chapter, Mill writes about the connection between justice
and utility, and argues that happiness is the foundation of justice.
Now that we have knowledge about the idea of utilitarianism of Bentham as well as J.S Mill, lets
proceed to the areas where J.S Mill diverged from Benthams Utilitarianism.

Difference between the theories of Bentham and J.S Mill or Divergence of J.S
Mill from Benthams Utilitarianism:
On the one hand J.S. Mill popularised the Utilitarianism of his father James Mill and his friend
Bentham and on the other hand, he continued his enquiry into truth. Consequently, Utilitarianism
is that theory which treats of the principle of utility of maximum, happiness as the basis of

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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
Utilitarianism
morality and believes that actions are good in the same ratio as they produce pleasure and are
wrong in the same ratio as they tend to produce the converse of pleasure.10

Difference between the theories of Mill and Bentham:


Mills theory differs from Benthams even though Mill has founded the school of Utilitarianism
on Benthams principles. The theories of Mill and Bentham differ from each other in the
following respects.
(i) Qualitative distinction in tendencies:
Bentham does pot admit of any difference in tendencies but Mill classified human tendencies and
by virtue of qualitative difference called some noble and other base. In this way lie said that
intellectual tendencies are far superior to physiological tendencies.
(ii) Qualitative distinction in pleasures:
In the same way, Mill made qualitative distinctions in different pleasures. According to
Bentham, all pleasures are similar. If the quantity of pleasure be the same, then there is no
difference between poetry and pushpin. Contrary to this, according to Mill, It is better to be a
human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied, better to be a Socrates dissatisfied than a fool
satisfied. In this way Mill clearly states that sensous pleasure originating from animal tendencies
is not everything. Mendal or intellectual pleasure is far superior.
Contrary to Bentham, Mill claimed that qualitative distinctions in pleasure are important.
According to him, the desirability of a pleasure depends both on its quantity and quality. In the
words of Mill, It is quite compatible with the principle of unility to recognise the fact that some
kinds of pleasure are more desirable and valuable than others. It would be absurd that while in
estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasure
10 The classical Utilitarians- Bentham and Mill edited,with introduction by John Troyer.
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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
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should be supposed to depend on quantity alone. Thus, in comparison with the unrefined
utilitarianism of Benthem, Mills theory of utilitarianism is considered refined. According to Mill,
Pleasures have qualitative distinctions and qualitative differences are superior to the
quantitative distinctions.
(iii) Differences in the assumptions about human nature:
Actually Mill and Bentham differed in their assumptions relating to human nature. Bentham did
not look upon man as anything better than animal. According to him, man is always in search of
pleasure. Pleasures do not have qualitative distinctions. According to Mill, man is not, merely an
animal. He is superior to animals. He has intellect and intellectual pleasure is superior to
sensual pleasure. Mans importance is due to his intellect. He does not run blind folded after
pleasures. He makes qualitative distinctions in pleasures.
(iv) Difference in ethical principles:
Thus the ethical principles of Mill and Bentham also differ. According to Bentham man should
carry out activities yielding the maximum pleasure, without making qualitative distinctions.
According to Mill, Man is not to become an animal. His humanity is valuable. It is creditable to
be human being even by designing sensual pleasure. Mans duty is to attain high qualities and
nobler or great pleasures.

Concluding Observations:
After observing this project report and also the knowledge of Mills own personal biography, it
can be easily concluded that Mill was raised by his father, James Mill, to be a strict utilitarian.
Jeremy Bentham also aided in Mill's upbringing, and Mill was deeply influenced by Bentham's
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PROJECT ON Critical analysis of how J.S Mill has diverged from Benthams
Utilitarianism
writings. Mill's childhood was rigid and intellectual, and when, at twenty-one he began to
question some of his beliefs, he suffered a nervous breakdown. Mill later struggled with his sense
that utilitarianism was too unemotional and that it failed to capture or understand the "higher"
pleasures. Thus, Mill's writings should be understood as the product of a struggle to
reconcile Utilitarianism with complexities that Bentham's theory failed to acknowledge.
However, Mill never rejected utilitarianism as a moral theory, and he continued to use Bentham's
framework of pleasure fulfillment throughout his own writings. Mill wrote Utilitarianism later in
life, and it upholds a more complex version of utilitarianism, yet one that still embraces the most
basic premises of Bentham and Mill's father.

References:

www.academia.com

www.scribd.com

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http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/utilitarianism/context.html

http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/utilitarianism/context.html

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