In “Recent Writers on Reform” Mill examined the ideas of three contemporary writers on parliamentary institutions in the 1850s, selected for their distinction and the importance of their ideas: John Austin, James Lorimer, and Thomas Hare. Austin had been one of Mill’s oldest friends, under whom as a youth he had studied law, and whose ability he greatly admired. Yet Austin, although a disciple of Bentham, had in later years become conservative and estranged from Mill, who in particular was disturbed by his vehement criticism of the French revolutionary government of 1848. In his Austin displayed a hostility to further parliamentary reform in the conviction that it was likely to destroy the delicate balance of the existing constitution and the appropriate attitudes of mind which facilitated its operation. The constitution, he believed, combined democratic and aristocratic elements. The electors were a democratic body, while the elected in the main constituted a remarkably skilled, devoted, and aristocratic governing class, who throughout a long span of time had acquired and were still able to apply the arts of ruling a country they understood.
If we look outside of Utilitarianism we can find evenclearer evidence of Mill's doubts about psychological egoism andhedonism. In a note to his edition of James Mill's Analysis of thePhenomena of the Human Mind (1869) John Stuart Mill diagnoses apossible equivocation in his father's doctrine.
Jeremy Bentham is widely regarded as the father of utilitarianism.
In 1826 when Mill was twenty he entered the shadows of a mental crisis, which lasted for months, and has been variously assessed and explained by biographers. It is easy to accept the traditional and simple view that it resulted from prolonged and excessive work. Mill had recently undertaken the prodigious task of editing the five volumes of Bentham’s contributed to newspapers and journals, debated in the societies with which he was associated, tutored his brothers and sisters at home, and dealt with official duties at India House. Yet there was more involved than heavy work and physical exhaustion. In the he blames a faulty education which cultivated his intellect but starved his feelings and aesthetic yearnings. His faith in the efficacy of utilitarian thought was evidently shaken, and it is symptomatic that on this, unlike other occasions, he failed to seek from his father guidance, sympathy, or compassion. He had secretly begun to rebel against certain elements in the philosophy of James Mill and Jeremy Bentham and felt compelled to work out alone an intellectual accommodation with his inheritance. A. W. Levi has advanced a Freudian explanation of the mental crisis and its disappearance. Whether we accept this view or not, Mill’s illness marked a milestone in his intellectual development. He awoke to deficiencies in the eighteenth-century utilitarian thought in which he had been indoctrinated, and to repair them sought guidance from other and varied sources, including a constellation of new friends and new mentors. In the fourteen years after 1826 the orthodox utilitarian was transformed into an eclectic liberal who in no sense repudiated all his inheritance but modified and combined it with many fresh ideas and methods of thought demanded in a world gripped by change where truth, as he saw it, must be many-sided.
In his essay, Utilitarianism Mill elaborates on ..
Bentham is not unaware of this tension. He addresses part of theproblem in the political context in other writings, notably hisPlan for Parliamentary Reform (1817). In the politicalcontext, the problem is how we can get self-interested rulers to rulein the interest of the governed, as utilitarianism implies that theyshould. Bentham's answer invokes his commitment to representativedemocracy. We can reconcile self-interested motivation and promotion ofthe common good if we make rulers democratically accountable to (all)those whom they govern, for this tends to make the interest of thegoverned and the interest of the governors coincide. Bentham'sargument, elaborated by James Mill in his Essay on Government,is something like this.
John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham Essay | Free …
Though Mill accepts the utilitarian legacy of the Radicals, hetransforms that legacy in important ways. Part of understanding Mill'scontributions to the utilitarian tradition involves understanding hisdisagreement with the Radicals on issues about human motivation and thenature of happiness.
Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill - Philosophy Pages
Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) was influenced both by Hobbes'account of human nature and Hume's account of socialutility. He famously held that humans were ruled by two sovereignmasters — pleasure and pain. We seek pleasure and the avoidanceof pain, they “…govern us in all we do, in all we say, inall we think…” (Bentham PML, 1). Yet he also promulgated theprinciple of utility as the standard of right action on the part ofgovernments and individuals. Actions are approved when theyare such as to promote happiness, or pleasure, and disapproved of whenthey have a tendency to cause unhappiness, or pain (PML). Combinethis criterion of rightness with a view that we should be activelytrying to promote overall happiness, and one has a seriousincompatibility with psychological egoism. Thus, his apparentendorsement of Hobbesian psychological egoism created problems inunderstanding his moral theory since psychological egoism rules outacting to promote the overall well-being when that it is incompatiblewith one's own. For the psychological egoist, that is noteven a possibility. So, given ‘ought implies can’ itwould follow that we are not obligated to act to promote overallwell-being when that is incompatible with our own. This generatesa serious tension in Bentham's thought, one that was drawn to hisattention. He sometimes seemed to think that he could reconcilethe two commitments empirically, that is, by noting that when peopleact to promote the good they are helping themselves, too. Butthis claim only serves to muddy the waters, since the standardunderstanding of psychological egoism — and Bentham's ownstatement of his view — identifies motives of action which areself-interested. Yet this seems, again, in conflict with his ownspecification of the method for making moral decisions which is not tofocus on self-interest — indeed, the addition of extent as aparameter along which to measure pleasure produced distinguishes thisapproach from ethical egoism. Aware of the difficulty, in lateryears he seemed to pull back from a full-fledged commitment topsychological egoism, admitting that people do sometimes actbenevolently — with the overall good of humanity in mind.