Saturday, December 4, 2010

Right and Wrong - Jeremy Bentham

"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 shall do." -Jeremy Bentham

Bentham believed that we should take action based on what produces pleasure and elevates pain. He believed this is how to make good moral decisions; to consider our own happiness and the happiness of others should be our greatest concern. The pursuit of happiness is a driving force in the lives of many. However, happiness can never be fully understood or appreciated without sorrow. I would not desire to inflict pain on another. However I do recognize the value in the experience of sorrow. It has always been reflective of periods of intense emotional growth.

The video below contains the first lecture from Harvard University's course on Justice. It contains a variety of moral dilemma's and is a very interesting lecture that also relates to Jeremy Bentham's philosophical ideas. 

The dilemmas place you in situations where killing could be seen as an act that would serve the greater good. I kept imaging myself within each situation. I recognized that within those situations it would not occur to me to take a life. I wouldn't create the dilemma for myself, because I wouldn't recognize it as a solution. It would take a different kind of mind to be aware of those options.

This video and associated reading material can be found at The complete course 'Justice' by Harvard University is available on this site.