An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation cover

An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)

1. 00 - Preface
2. 01 - Chapter 1: Of the Principle of Utility
3. 02 - Chapter 2: Of Principles Adverse to that of Utility
4. 03 - Chapter 3: Of the Four Sanctions or Sources of Pain and Pleasure
5. 04 - Chapter 4: Value of a Lot of Pleasure, How to be Measured
6. 05 - Chapter 5: Pleasures and Pains, Their Kinds
7. 06a - Chapter 6, part a: Of Circumstances Influencing Sensibility
8. 06b - Chapter 6, part b: Of Circumstances Influencing Sensibility
9. 07 - Chapter 7: Of Human Actions in General
10. 08 - Chapter 8: Of Intentionality
11. 09 - Chapter 9: Of Consciousness
12. 10a - Chapter 10, part a: Of Motives
13. 10b - Chapter 10, part b: Of Motives
14. 10c - Chapter 10, part c: Of Motives
15. 11 - Chapter 11: Of Human Dispositions in General
16. 12 - Chapter 12: Of the Consequences of a Mischievous Act
17. 13 - Chapter 13: Of Cases Unmeet for Punishment
18. 14 - Chapter 14: Of the Proportion Between Punishments and Offences
19. 15 - Chapter 15: Of the Properties to be Given to a Lot of Punishment
20. 16-1 - Chapter 16, paragraph 1: Classes of Offences
21. 16-2a - Chapter 16, paragraph 2, part a: Divisions and sub-divisions
22. 16-2b - Chapter 16, paragraph 2, part b: Divisions and sub-divisions
23. 16-3a - Chapter 16, paragraph 3, part a: Genera of Class I
24. 16-3b - Chapter 16, paragraph 3, part b: Genera of Class I
25. 16-3c - Chapter 16, paragraph 3, part c: Genera of Class I
26. 16-3d - Chapter 16, paragraph 3, part d: Genera of Class I
27. 16-4 - Chapter 16, paragraph 4: Advantages of the present method
28. 16-5 - Chapter 16, paragraph 5: Characters of the five classes
29. 17 - Chapter 17: Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence

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Summary

Jeremy Bentham's Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, a classic text in modern philosophy and jurisprudence, first published in 1789, focuses on the principle of utility and how this view of morality ties into legislative practices. Bentham's ambition in life was to create a complete Utilitarian code of law. The philosophy of utilitarianism argues that the right act or policy is that which would cause "the greatest good for the greatest number of people", also known as "the greatest happiness principle", or the principle of utility.Bentham's principle of utility regards "good" as that which produces the greatest amount of pleasure, and the minimum amount of pain; and "evil" as that which produces the most pain without the pleasure. This concept of pleasure and pain is defined by Bentham as physical as well as spiritual. Bentham writes about this principle as it manifests itself within the legislation of a society. He lays down a set of criteria for measuring the extent of pain or pleasure that a certain decision will create. Bentham argues that certain unnecessary laws and punishments could ultimately lead to new and more dangerous vices than those being punished to begin with. He is of opinion that the concept of the individual pursuing his or her own happiness cannot be necessarily declared "right", because often these individual pursuits can lead to greater pain and less pleasure for the society as a whole. Therefore, the legislation of a society is vital to maintaining a society with optimum pleasure and the minimum degree of pain for the greatest amount of people.