chapter  5
UTILITARIANISM
Pages 22

This chapter is made up of questions concerning the doctrine of utilitarianism associated with Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), John Stuart Mill (1806-73), and related criticisms of the doctrine by Nozick (1938-2002) and Rawls (1921-2002) and others. The principles of utilitarianism made a direct impact on jurisprudence, particularly in areas involving the criminal law. Utilitarians perceived the ‘true good’ as happiness and argued that each person always pursues what he considers to be his personal happiness. The legislator’s task is to effect a balance of public and private interests. Hence, the criminal law may be viewed as a mode of producing a coincidence of the interests of the community and of the individual. Bentham was concerned, in particular, with influencing legislation and policy along utilitarian lines. Mill was less dogmatic. His major interest was in the liberty of the individual and the consequent need to set limits to government action. Questions in this area of jurisprudential thought require an understanding of the general principles of utilitarianism, the arguments used by Bentham and Mill and the views of critics of utilitarianism, such as Nozick and Rawls.