conditions being supplied Benthams dictum everybody to count for one nobody for

Conditions being supplied benthams dictum everybody

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conditions being supplied, Bentham's dictum, ' everybody to count for one, nobody for more than one,' might be written under the principle of utility as an explana tory commentary.* The equal claim of everybody to * This implication, in the first principle of the utilitarian scheme, of perfect impartiality between persons, is regarded by Mr. Herbert Spencer (in his Social Statics) as a disproof of the pretentions of utility to be a sufficient guide to right; since (he says) the principle of utility presupposes the anterior principle, that everybody has an equal right to happiness. It may be more correctly described as supposing that equal amounts of happiness are equally desirable, whether felt by the same or by different persons. This, however, is not a pre-supposition ; not a premise needful to support the prin ciple of utility, but the very principle itself ; for what is the prin ciple of utility, if it be not that ' happiness ' and ' desirable ' are synonymous terms 1 If there is any anterior principle implied, it can be no other than this, that the truths of arithmetic are applicable to the valuation of happiness, as of all other measurable quantities. [Mr. Herbert Spencer, in a private communication on the subject of the preceding Note, objects to being considered an opponent of Utilitarianism ; and states that he regards happiness as the ultimate end of morality ; but deems that end only partially attainable by empirical generalizations from the observed results of conduct, and completely attainable only by deducing, from the laws of life and the conditions of existence, what kinds of action necessarily tend to pro duce happiness, and what kinds to produce unhappiness. With the exception of the word " necessarily," I have no dissent to express from this doctrine ; and (omitting that word) I am not aware that any modern advocate of utilitarianism is of a different opinion. Bent- ham, certainly, to whom in the Social Statics Mr. Spencer particularly referred, is, least of all writers, chargeable with unwillingness to de duce the effect of actions on happiness from the laws of human nature and the universal conditions of human life. The common charge
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94 UTILITARIANISM. happiness in the estimation of the moralist and the legislator, involves an equal claim to all the means of happiness, except in so far as the inevitable conditions of human life, and the general interest, in which that of every individual is included, set limits to the maxim ; and those limits ought to be strictly con strued. As every other maxim of justice, so this, is by no means applied or held applicable universally ; on the contrary, as I have already remarked, it bends to every person's ideas of social expediency. But in whatever case it is deemed applicable at all, it is held to be the dictate of justice. All persons are deemed to have a right to equality of treatment, except when some recognised social expediency requires the reverse.
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