Hedonic Calculus

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Thinking hard
or hardly thinking?

Philosophy
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Major trains of thought
The good, the bad
and the brain fart
Come to think of it

The Hedonic Calculus was formulated by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham. It is used by practitioners of Benthamite school of Utilitarianism to measure how much pleasure/pain actions will create. Actions are "good" if they maximise pleasure and minimise pain for the greatest number. However, unlike John Stuart Mill, Bentham had no hierarchy of pleasure, and so, went for quantity over quality (Mill classified intellectual pleasures as superior to base bestial pleasures e.g. learning the violin was superior to having an orgy).

The criteria for measuring whether actions are moral are as follows:

  1. Intensity: How strong is the pleasure?
  2. Duration: How long will the pleasure last?
  3. Certainty or uncertainty: How likely or unlikely is it that the pleasure will occur?
  4. Propinquity or remoteness: How soon will the pleasure occur?
  5. Fecundity: The probability that the action will be followed by sensations of the same kind.
  6. Purity: The probability that it will not be followed by sensations of the opposite kind.
  7. Extent: How many people will be affected?