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The Principles of Morals and Legislation (Great Books in Philosophy)

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0879754341
ISBN-10: 0879754346
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Baird is chair of the Philosophy Department at Baylor University.

Rosenbaum is an associate professor of Philosophy at Baylor.
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Product Details

  • Series: Great Books in Philosophy
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (February 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879754346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879754341
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jeremy Bentham (IPA: ['ben??m]) (February 15, 1748 - June 6, 1832) was an English gentleman, jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. He is best known as an early advocate of utilitarianism and animal rights.

Bentham was one of the most influential (classical) liberals, partially through his writings but particularly through his students all around the world, including John Stuart Mill and several political leaders.

He argued in favor of individual and economic freedom, including the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, animal rights, the end of slavery, the abolition of physical punishment (also of children), the right to divorce, free trade, and no restrictions on interest. But, he was not a libertarian, and supported inheritance tax, restrictions on monopoly power, pensions, and health insurance.

In 1776, Bentham published his Fragment on Government anonymously, a criticism of Blackstone's Commentaries, and in 1780 his Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation was published.

A truly influential author!
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The 2010 paperback is basically a photocopied version, which seems like it was done on a melting photocopier! Many of the pages are barely readable, and there are photocopied notes someone took, which aren't even helpful... I highly recommend purchasing the 1988 version instead! I don't know why such a version is being sold by Amazon.
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By A Customer on September 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
Jeremy Bentham was an important social reformer and a major figure in the history of ethics. However you might not know it from reading this dense and forbidding tract. Even a short excerpt can be tough going. However, utilitarianism has been, and remains, one of the most influential ethical philosophies of all time, and this was among its modern founding documents.
If one can come away from it with a general sense of what utilitarianism is, what act utilitarianism is, and how it gets from egoism in psychology to neutralism in ethics, one has done pretty well. This should help the reader start thinking about what some of the problems with this theory are, how it measures up to its competitors, and how it can be applied to specific problems.
The best news for those who have braved this text is that Mill and other later thinkers will seem like poetry in motion by comparison.
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Format: Paperback
Jeremy Bentham's Bentham Utilitarianism is essentially based on his desire to move away from the moral philosophy of Judeo-Christian ethics ,or the deism of Adam Smith, and move toward a philosophy that could under pin an atheistic perspective.Bentham wants to come up with a decision making calculus which is simultaneously applicable to issues in economics(politics)and ethics(morals).Bentham claims that for all actions there are two distinctly measurable outcomes,pain and pleasure. Bentham comes up with a Principle of Utility(p.1).This essentially boils down to the observation that positive utility(pleasure) is generated by activities that generate sensations of pleasure while negative utility(pain) is generated by activities which generate sensations of pain.One can approve or disapprove of any action to the extent that it increases happiness(pleasure)or decreases pain.Approve ,in Bentham's system,translates as good or right.Disapprove,in Benthams system, translates as bad or wrong.How is this system implemented ? Bentham claims that there are lots(units) of pleasure and pain that all decisionmakers can calculate precisely and exactly.The value of the lots will be more or less depending on the duration,intensity,and certainty of the pleasure.All actions are equally good if the sum of the amounts of pleasure resulting from each action is equal.This is where economists come up with their indifference curve analysis and hedonic calculus.Unfortunately,Bentham fails miseribly in his attempt to demonstrate that human decision makers have the capacity to calculate exactly in quantitative terms.He never answers the question ," How do humans actually make the quantitative calculations ? ", upon which Bentham's entire edifice of decision amking is so precariously balanced .He merely asserts it:" ...Read more ›
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It is a real classic, and should not need to be graded. While utilitarianism isn't complete and requires bounds that may be provided by Kant, it is an appealing and effective way to manage litigation.
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Format: Paperback
Jeremy Bentham's ideology on human pursuit of pleasure contains many strengths and weaknesses. Bentham's essay, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, separates the two root drives of human essence into categories of pleasure and pain. Bentham stresses the duality of the human mind's pursuit of pleasure, continuing from subjugation of others for ultimate attainment. He states that humans should not be grouped, due to personal conviction and perspective. Although the individual is part of a community, the individual's own pursuance of pleasure categorizes them as a utility; resulting in the term `utilitarianism.'

Several principles are listed by Bentham to support his argument that humanity has a distinct set of motives to create happiness or malcontent amongst the masses. Bentham relates these principles with empowered political bodies and why they continue to rule. One of Bentham's principles, the principle of sympathy and antipathy, praises the human ability to generally accept certain actions as an impersonal blow. Thus, if a utility does not feel threatened or in err, why relate consequences of actions to personal welfare? In turn, should that individual measure out the consequences of others' actions fearing for their own external welfare?

Bentham's perspective on human methodology as a strict functioning environment of social cues has many flaws. Determination of values as `right' or `wrong' does not review the complexities of human social environment. Empowerment was not an anti-puritanical event that occurred in society; but a constitution of human need for order.
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