Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ode to Bentham's "Calculus of Happiness"

In a previous post I noted the brilliance of Bentham. Bentham's "calculus of happiness" posits the following 7 considerations that ought to be assessed when determining which action will maximize happiness:

1. Intensity of the pleasure
2. Duration of the pleasure
3. Its certainty/uncertainty
4. Remoteness [nearness in time]
5. Fecundity [likelihood that it will be followed by sensations of the same kind]
6. Purity [likelihood that it will be followed by opposite sensations]
7. Extent [the number of persons to whom it extends]

While preparing my Bentham lecture for my course this coming year I put together the following video to help my students remember these 7 components of Bentham's calculus: