Jeremy Bentham proposed a link between happiness and right action. What is the challenge of this approach?

Jeremy was an English philosopher who lived between mid 1700 and early 1800.

While happiness may seems a good candidate to define what a right action could be, defining happiness can be challenging.

That's because if we say something increases our happiness, we must first define what is happiness, and if we ask 10 people we may get 10 different answers.

For example, one person may say food, another says his or her girlfriend, and another may say smoking weed.

This can even go wilder with drugs that are illegal in many countries.

We tend to link happiness to pleasure, and we try to make it last as long as possible.

But the problem with pleasure is that we don't always agree on what is pleasant either.

For example, some people may like to watch horror movies, while others may just be fine by watching the news.

Probably a better approach would be to reverse the sentence.

Instead of linking a good, or a bad action, to an increased happiness, we could say that a right action should reduce suffering, and conversely a wrong or bad action, may increase suffering.

This should be easier to handle since we'd have a common ground when it comes to define suffering and pain.

Of course, even this approach is not totally free from ambiguity.

For example, we go to the dentist and we feel pain when she fixes our cavity.

We cannot possibly say that she made us happier, but with time, we'd agree that she actually did it.

So, if we really want to define a link between happiness a good actions, we'd probably include the time factor in the equation.

For example, research suggest that dinosaurs were gone extinct after a meteorite hit the Earth.

Surely that didn't make them happier, but in a time period that event allowed humans to populate the Earth and to enjoy her extraordinary beauty.[1]



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Saturday, 02 December 2023