عنوان مقاله [English]
If we divide ethical issues and theories into three subdivisions of descriptive, normative and analytical (meta-) ethics, surely we have to place the consequentialist and deontological theories under the rubric of normative ethics, since these theories discuss about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ conducts and concepts like ‘ought’ and ‘ought not’. One of the most important schools within the consequentialist normative ethics is utilitarianism, about which the present essay is concerned. In the majority of Persian works, both original and translated, utilitarianism has been taken as a synonym with hedonism, and hedonism has been construed as seeking bodily pleasure and happiness. In fact, the distinction between hedonism and utilitarianism in these works has become blurred. Utilitarianism, in essence, says that the result of every action of man is to be evaluated on the basis of the principle of utility. The goodness of an action thus depends on the average of benefit or usefulness which can be attributed to its consequences, which the latter ones in their turn can be measured on the basis of pleasure and enjoyment. The badness of an action, likewise, depends on the average of pain or suffering which can be attributed to its consequences. The present paper, in the first place, will investigate the history and development of various kinds of utilitarianism. It also explains and clarifies the characteristics of the views of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) and then compares these two. Secondly, the papers will investigate the manner in which Mill and Bentham's theories, on the basis of the principle of utility, take particular actions as ethical or unethical. Finally, the paper also argues that pleasure and enjoyment as discussed in these theories, both at the individual and social level, are not undesirable and have nothing to do with indecency or being heinous.