To this end Bentham began with a savage but well directed attack upon the traditional cliches of natural law and the social contract as embodied in Blackstone’s complacent and uncritical panegyric on the British Constitution.
This was followed by an attempt to analyze the springs of human actions in terms of pleasures and pains, and to reduce human needs to -i ‘calculus felicity’ where different ‘lots’ of happiness could be weighed by certain quantitative tests, in order to ascertain what utility decreed.”
“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 should do.” He adds: “By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever according to the tendency, which it appears to have augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question : or, what is- the same thing, in other words, to promote or to oppose that happiness.”
By utility is meant that property in any object whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good or happiness or to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest in considered: if that party be the community in general, then the happiness of the community; if a particular individual, then the happiness of the individual.
Bentham has enumerated the following kinds of pleasures: the pleasures of sense, the pleasures of wealth, the pleasures of skill, the pleasures of amity, the pleasures of good name, the pleasures of power, the pleasures of piety, the pleasures of memory, imagination, expectation, relief and the pleasures of association.
Similarly, he has enumerated pain to be of the following types: the pains of privation, sense, awkwardness, amity, ill name, piety, benevolence, malevolence, memory, imagination, expectation and the pains dependent on association.
Bentham regards the sources of pleasures and pain as sanctions. The word sanction is derived from the Latin word sanction, which means the act of binding. According to Bentham, the physical, the political, the moral and the religious sanctions are the four sanctions of the principle of utility.
As regards physical sanction, Bentham says: “In a word, the powers of nature may operate themselves, but neither the magistrate, nor men at large, can operate, nor is God in the case in question supposed to operate, but through the powers of nature.”
Utilitarianism of Mill:
In this connection the theory of utilitarianism propounded by John Stuart Mill may be referred to. Mill remarks “according to the greatest happiness principle, the ultimate end, with reference to end for the sake of which all other things are desirable, is an existence exempt as far as possible from pain, and as rich as possible in enjoyment, both in point of quantity and quality.
Mill has emphasized qualitative utilitarianism in the following words:
“There is no known Epicurean theory of life which does not assign to the pleasure of the intellect, of the feeling and imagination, and of the moral sentiments, a much higher value of pleasure than those of mere sensations.”
“the general happiness is greatest of the happiness of all the persons.”
Utilitarianism of Sedgwick:
The theory of rational utilitarianism has been expounded by Sedgwick. He lays emphasis on reason. He says : “I propose, therefore, to define pleasure when we are considering its strict value of purposes of quantitative comparison as a feeling which, when experienced by intelligent beings is at least implicitly apprehended as desirable or, in case of comparison, prefer- able.”
“By utilitarianism is here meant the ethical theory, that the conduct which under any given circumstances is objectively right, is ‘ that which will produce the greatest amount of happiness on the whole, that is taking into account all whose happiness is affected by the conduct.”
Utilitarianism of Moore:
Moore’s utilitarianism has a different approach, which is agathistic or idealistic. According to him, happiness of the highest order must be preferred to the pleasures of the animal level. He says,
“To begin with, then, this theory points out that all actions may theoretically at least be arranged in a scale, according to the proposition between the total quantities of pleasure or pain which they cause.”
It may be stated here that Austin’s positivism and the theory of law as a command of the sovereign, discussed in the next following chapter, purged the Benthamite utilitarian ethics from jurisprudence.