It was John Stuart Mill’s aim to revise and adapt Bentham’s ideas. Mill felt that this revision was necessary because many other writers had criticized Bentham’s work. Indeed Mill agreed with the criticisms that had been made and perhaps part of Mills response can be seen as an intellectual rebellion against his one time teacher. Mill attempted to adapt Bentham’s thoughts by introducing a number of different ideas and distinctions.
One of the criticisms of Bentham’s philosophy was that it was a ‘swine’ philosophy.
The accusation was that, with its emphasis on pleasure, Utilitarianism made human beings no better than pigs.
The first criticism that was made was that ‘what is pleasure’. Utilitarianism is based on the idea of Hedonism. Indeed this is what led many philosophers to suggest that Utilitarianism was a ‘swine philosophy’ as it was simply based on pleasure. Mill did not attempt to respond to this accusation by suggesting a distinction between higher and lower pleasures.
Another criticism that was made ‘is human nature egoistic’. Humans do not always seem to act in their own interest. For example, there are many examples of human beings risking their own life to save the life of another. This clearly is a problem for Bentham’s version of Utilitarianism although it is one of the things that Mill recognized.
‘Is the principle of utility what we mean by morality’ is another criticism that was made by Mill. For a Utilitarian, an action is good if, and only if; it brings about the greatest good for the greatest number.
In other words it does not matter about an individuals motives or how the greatest good for the greatest number is actually achieved. This goes against the idea that it is intentions, like love and care, which are important roles in morality.
Finally the last criticism that was made ‘is happiness the only thing that is important’. For a Utilitarian the only thing that is important to them is the idea of happiness. Therefore anything that brings about happiness as the end is right.
I think that are to many criticisms to what Bentham has said and that utilitarianism goes against most of the laws that we have in our country that we have today. For example, if someone was to murder someone because they didn’t make them happy, then a Utilitarian might say that it made them happy consequentially. And also might make more people happy because it could be a serial killer that was just murdered.