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Utilitarianism and Other Essays Paperback – August 4, 1987

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About the Author

John Stuart Mill (1806 - 73) formed the Utilitarian Society which met to read and discuss essays. His works include On LIberty and Principles of Political Economy. Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832) set out to theorize a simple and equitable legal system. The law of utility, for which is best remembered, states that the goodness of a law can be measured in accordance with the measure in which it subserves the happiness of hte individual. Alan Ryan is Warden of New College, Oxford and is currently on sabbatical in Stanford. His other books include Property and Political Theory and Bertrand Russell: A Political Life.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (August 4, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140432728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140432725
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #559,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Roberto P. De Ferraz on September 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Jeremy Bentham is the father of the doctrine called Utilitarianism, and John Stuart Mill (son of the second-rank philosopher James Mill and a kind of mouthpiece for Jeremy) is his most known disciple. «Utilitarianism and other Essays » presents the reader some of the most important and exciting excerpts texts written by the two thinkers, who, despite outwardly embracing the same doctrine, had to do a lot of theoretical gymnastics to accomodate each other points of view under the same ideological umbrella, thus demonstrating that sometimes the battle is fiercest, albeit muffled, inside than outside ideological headquarters. In hindsight , it seems that John Stuart Mill, who ran the rudders of the Economic doctrine of England until the 1860's, had some scores to settle with Jeremy, who was many years his senior and had ben, by some, the person behind the culturally sophisticated (although stripped of any emotional and religious overtones) education John received as a boy, learning Greek at 3, Latin at 8 and revising at 15 (in French) the first volume of the book « Democracy in America », by Tocqueville. The outcome of all this is that Mill developed a type of melancholic character who almost pushed him to the depths of depression, only rescued by his second marriage in his mid-life, when he embraced a lot of libertarian and anti-establishment proposals.

The writting styles of the two are blatantly different, James being the pragmatical dogmatist who accepted no exception to his utilitarian praecepts, Mill, on the contrary, the soft-minded scholar who diligently tried to mend the many defficiencies of a theory so rigidly framed and which was supposed to answer to all demands of human action. This dogmatism by Bentham, forced Mill later in life to abscond that doctrine, althoug never converting himself to any religion creed. Worthy of mention if the superb introduction by Alan Ryan, being a book on utilitarianism in itself.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on October 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is John Stuart Mill's restatement and qualification of the philosophical doctrine of' Utilitarianism'- the doctrine that the aim of Society is to produce the "greatest happiness for the greatest number".

The philosophy whose great inventor was Jeremy Bentham built itself upon the idea of a calculus of pleasures and pains, an almost mechanical measuring of feeling.

However the complexity, contradictory quality of our inner life suggest that any calculation of this type has a certain shallowness and illegitimacy about it.

In any case Mill's idea of utilitarianism does connect with his conception of Liberalism, and does have effect on his later thought even as he rejected most of it.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lester Kim on January 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Mill's Utilitarianism is a very interesting and modern essay. It surely has endured the test of time so far and will continue to do so for many generations to come.
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