Classical Utilitarianism from Hume to Mill

Classical Utilitarianism from Hume to Mill

by Frederick Rosen

Hardback Publication Date: 24/07/2003

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This book presents a new and controversial analysis of the idea of utility, its role in the foundation of morality, and its connection with justice and liberty, from Hume's Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals to J.S. Mill's On Liberty and Utilitarianism. The book is situated within the philosophical context of the earlier Epicurean tradition with its emphasis on pleasure, pain and utility on which the main figures discussed in this book - Hume, Smith, Helvetius, Bentham, Paley, and J.S. Mill - drew. The author defines a classical utilitarian tradition, which in turn is defended as a coherent context for understanding important arguments in moral and political philosophy concerned with justice, rights, liberty, individuality, equality, and democracy. Classical Utilitarianism from Hume to Mill utilizes a number of disciplines, such as moral and political philosophy, political and social theory, intellectual history, the history of philosophy, and the history of economic thought to present a unique study in two parts.
Part I includes chapters on such topics as the major figures in the Scottish and French Enlightenments, Smith and Bentham on the entrepreneur, the religious utilitarianism of Paley, and Mill's critique of Carlyle and the defence of Bentham. Part II defends classical utilitarianism against a number of common contemporary criticisms concerned with the punishment of the innocent, the sacrifice of some for the happiness of others, democratic despotism or majority tyranny, and the impoverished state of negative liberty.
Philosophy: aesthetics
Publication Date:
Taylor & Francis Ltd
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
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