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KANT promising
1. Another finds himself forced by necessity to borrow money. He
2. knows that he will not be able to repay it, but sees also that nothing
3. will be lent to him unless he promises stoutly to repay it in a
4. definite time. He desires to make this promise, but he has still so
5. much conscience as to ask himself: “Is it not unlawful and
6. inconsistent with duty to get out of a difficulty in this way?”
7. Suppose however that he resolves to do so: then the maxim of his
8. action would be expressed thus: “When I think myself in want of money,
9. I will borrow money and promise to repay it, although I know that I
10. never can do so.” Now this principle of self-love or of one’s own
11. advantage may perhaps be consistent with my whole future welfare;
12. but the question now is, “Is it right?” I change then the suggestion
13. of self-love into a universal law, and state the question thus: “How
14. would it be if my maxim were a universal law?” Then I see at once that
15. it could never hold as a universal law of nature, but would
16. necessarily contradict itself. For supposing it to be a universal
17. law that everyone when he thinks himself in a difficulty should be
18. able to promise whatever he pleases, with the purpose of not keeping
19. his promise, the promise itself would become impossible, as well as
20. the end that one might have in view in it, since no one would consider
21. that anything was promised to him
22. A fourth, who is in prosperity, while he sees that others have to
23. contend with great wretchedness and that he could help them, thinks:
24. “What concern is it of mine? Let everyone be as happy as Heaven
25. pleases, or as be can make himself; I will take nothing from him nor
26. even envy him, only I do not wish to contribute anything to his
27. welfare or to his assistance in distress!” Now no doubt if such a mode
28. of thinking were a universal law, the human race might very well
29. subsist and doubtless even better than in a state in which everyone
30. talks of sympathy and good-will, or even takes care occasionally to
31. put it into practice, but, on the other side, also cheats when he can,
32. betrays the rights of men, or otherwise violates them. But although it
33. is possible that a universal law of nature might exist in accordance
34. with that maxim, it is impossible to will that such a principle should
35. have the universal validity of a law of nature. For a will which
36. resolved this would contradict itself, inasmuch as many cases might
37. occur in which one would have need of the love and sympathy of others,
38. and in which, by such a law of nature, sprung from his own will, he
39. would deprive himself of all hope of the aid he desires. . . .
II. The several simple pleasures of which human nature is susceptible, seem
to be as follows: 1. The pleasures of sense. 2. The pleasures of wealth. 3.
The pleasures of skill. 4. The pleasures of amity. 5. The pleasures of a
good name. 6. The pleasures of power. 7. The pleasures of piety. 8. The
pleasures of benevolence. 9. The pleasures of malevolence. 10. The pleasures
of memory. 11. The pleasures of imagination. 12. The pleasures of
expectation. 13. The pleasures dependent on association. 14. The pleasures
of relief.
III. The several simple pains seem to be as follows: 1. The pains of
privation. 2. The pains of the senses. 3. The pains of awkwardness. 4. The
pains of enmity. 5. The pains of an ill name. 6. The pains of piety. 7. The
pains of benevolence. 8. The pains of malevolence. 9. The pains of the
memory. 10. The pains of the imagination. 11. The pains of expectation. 12.
The pains dependent on association.[1]
IV. 1. The pleasures of sense seem to be as follows: 1. The pleasures of the
taste or palate; including whatever pleasures are experienced in satisfying
the appetites of hunger and thirst. 2. The pleasure of intoxication. 3. The
pleasures of the organ of smelling. 4. The pleasures of the touch. 5. The
simple pleasures of the ear; independent of association. 6. The simple
pleasures of the eye; independent of association. 7. The pleasure of the
sexual sense. 8. The pleasure of health: or, the internal pleasureable
feeling or flow of spirits (as it is called), which accompanies a state of
full health and vigour; especially at times of moderate bodily exertion. 9.
The pleasures of novelty: or, the pleasures derived from the gratification
of the appetite of curiosity, by the application of new objects to any of
the senses.[2]
Introduction to the Principles of Morals and
Jeremy Bentham
Chapter 1
Of the Principle of Utility
I. Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain
and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to
determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on
the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern
us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off
our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it. In words a man may
pretend to abjure their empire: but in reality he will remain. subject to it all the while.
The principle of utility recognizes this subjection, and assumes it for the foundation
of that system, the object of which is to rear the fabric of felicity by the hands of
reason and of law. Systems which attempt to question it, deal in sounds instead of
sense, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness instead of light.
But enough of metaphor and declamation: it is not by such means that moral
science is to be improved.
II. The principle of utility is the foundation of the present work: it will be proper
therefore at the outset to give an explicit and determinate account of what is meant
by it. By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves
of every action whatsoever. according to the tendency it appears to have to
augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or,
what is the same thing in other words to promote or to oppose that happiness. I say
of every action whatsoever, and therefore not only of every action of a private
individual, but of every measure of government.
III. By utility is meant that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce
benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness, (all this in the present case
comes to the same thing) or (what comes again to the same thing) to prevent the
happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is
considered: if that party be the community in general, then the happiness of the
community: if a particular individual, then the happiness of that individual.
IV. The interest of the community is one of the most general expressions that can
occur in the phraseology of morals: no wonder that the meaning of it is often lost.
When it has a meaning, it is this. The community is a fictitious body, composed of
the individual persons who are considered as constituting as it were its members.
The interest of the community then is, what is it?—the sum of the interests of the
several members who compose it.
V. It is in vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is
the interest of the individual. A thing is said to promote the interest, or to be for the
interest, of an individual, when it tends to add to the sum total of his pleasures: or,
what comes to the same thing, to diminish the sum total of his pains.
VI. An action then may be said to be conformable to then principle of utility, or, for
shortness sake, to utility, (meaning with respect to the community at large) when the
tendency it has to augment the happiness of the community is greater than any it
has to diminish it.
VII. A measure of government (which is but a particular kind of action, performed by
a particular person or persons) may be said to be conformable to or dictated by the
principle of utility, when in like manner the tendency which it has to augment the
happiness of the community is greater than any which it has to diminish it.
VIII. When an action, or in particular a measure of government, is supposed by a
man to be conformable to the principle of utility, it may be convenient, for the
purposes of discourse, to imagine a kind of law or dictate, called a law or dictate of
utility: and to speak of the action in question, as being conformable to such law or
IX. A man may be said to be a partisan of the principle of utility, when the
approbation or disapprobation he annexes to any action, or to any measure, is
determined by and proportioned to the tendency which he conceives it to have to
augment or to diminish the happiness of the community: or in other words, to its
conformity or unconformity to the laws or dictates of utility.
X. Of an action that is conformable to the principle of utility one may always say
either that it is one that ought to be done, or at least that it is not one that ought not
to be done. One may say also, that it is right it should be done; at least that it is not
wrong it should be done: that it is a right action; at least that it is not a wrong action.
When thus interpreted, the words ought, and right and wrong and others of that
stamp, have a meaning: when otherwise, they have none.
XI. Has the rectitude of this principle been ever formally contested? It should seem
that it had, by those who have not known what they have been meaning. Is it
susceptible of any direct proof? it should seem not: for that which is used to prove
every thing else, cannot itself be proved: a chain of proofs must have their
commencement somewhere. To give such proof is as impossible as it is needless.
XII. Not that there is or ever has been that human creature at breathing, however
stupid or perverse, who has not on many, perhaps on most occasions of his life,
deferred to it. By the natural constitution of the human frame, on most occasions of
their lives men in general embrace this principle, without thinking of it: if not for the
ordering of their own actions, yet for the trying of their own actions, as well as of
those of other men. There have been, at the same time, not many perhaps, even of
the most intelligent, who have been disposed to embrace it purely and without
reserve. There are even few who have not taken some occasion or other to quarrel
with it, either on account of their not understanding always how to apply it, or on
account of some prejudice or other which they were afraid to examine into, or could
not bear to part with. For such is the stuff that man is made of: in principle and in
practice, in a right track and in a wrong one, the rarest of all human qualities is
XIII. When a man attempts to combat the principle of utility, it is with reasons drawn,
without his being aware of it, from that very principle itself. His arguments, if they
prove any thing, prove not that the principle is wrong, but that, according to the
applications he supposes to be made of it, it is misapplied. Is it possible for a man to
move the earth? Yes; but he must first find out another earth to stand upon.
XIV. To disprove the propriety of it by arguments is impossible; but, from the causes
that have been mentioned, or from some confused or partial view of it, a man may
happen to be disposed not to relish it. Where this is the case, if he thinks the settling
of his opinions on such a subject worth the trouble, let him take the following steps,
and at length, perhaps, he may come to reconcile himself to it.
1. Let him settle with himself, whether he would wish to discard this principle
altogether; if so, let him consider what it is that all his reasonings (in matters of
politics especially) can amount to?
2. If he would, let him settle with himself, whether he would judge and act without any
principle, or whether there is any other he would judge an act by?
3. If there be, let him examine and satisfy himself whether the principle he thinks he
has found is really any separate intelligible principle; or whether it be not a mere
principle in words, a kind of phrase, which at bottom expresses neither more nor less
than the mere averment of his own unfounded sentiments; that is, what in another
person he might be apt to call caprice?
4. If he is inclined to think that his own approbation or disapprobation, annexed to the
idea of an act, without any regard to its consequences, is a sufficient foundation for
him to judge and act upon, let him ask himself whether his sentiment is to be a
standard of right and wrong, with respect to every other man, or whether every man’s
sentiment has the same privilege of being a standard to itself?
5. In the first case, let him ask himself whether his principle is not despotical, and
hostile to all the rest of human race?
6. In the second case, whether it is not anarchial, and whether at this rate there are not
as many different standards of right and wrong as there are men? and whether even
to the same man, the same thing, which is right to-day, may not (without the least
change in its nature) be wrong to-morrow? and whether the same thing is not right
and wrong in the same place at the same time? and in either case, whether all
argument is not at an end? and whether, when two men have said, “I like this”, and
“I don’t like it”, they can (upon such a principle) have any thing more to say?
7. If he should have said to himself, No: for that the sentiment which he proposes as a
standard must be grounded on reflection, let him say on what particulars the
reflection is to turn? if on particulars having relation to the utility of the act, then let
him say whether this is not deserting his own principle, and borrowing assistance
from that very one in opposition to which he sets it up: or if not on those particulars,
on what other particulars?
8. If he should be for compounding the matter, and adopting his own principle in part,
and the principle of utility in part, let him say how far he will adopt it?
9. When he has settled with himself where he will stop, then let him ask himself how he
justifies to himself the adopting it so far? and why he will not adopt it any farther?
10. Admitting any other principle than the principle of utility to be a right principle, a
principle that it is right for a man to pursue; admitting (what is not true) that the word
right can have a meaning without reference to utility, let him say whether there is
any such thing as a motive that a man can have to pursue the dictates of it: if there is,
let him say what that motive is, and how it is to be distinguished from those which
enforce the dictates of utility: if not, then lastly let him say what it is this other
principle can be good for?
[Back to:]

Preface Preface
[Forward to:]

Chapter 2 Of Principles Adverse to that of Utility
[Up to:]

IPML Intro
IPML, Short Table of Contents
IPML, Detailed Table of Contents
After what we have said, a discussion of friendship would naturally follow, since it is a
virtue or implies virtue, and is besides most necessary with a view to living. For without
friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods; even rich men and
those in possession of office and of dominating power are thought to need friends most
of all; for what is the use of such prosperity without the opportunity of beneficence,
which is exercised chiefly and in its most laudable form towards friends? Or how can
prosperity be guarded and preserved without friends? The greater it is, the more exposed
is it to risk. And in poverty and in other misfortunes men think friends are the only
refuge. It helps the young, too, to keep from error; it aids older people by ministering to
their needs and supplementing the activities that are failing from weakness; those in the
prime of life it stimulates to noble actions-‘two going together’-for with friends men are
more able both to think and to act. Again, parent seems by nature to feel it for offspring
and offspring for parent, not only among men but among birds and among most animals;
it is felt mutually by members of the same race, and especially by men, whence we
praise lovers of their fellowmen. We may even in our travels note how near and dear
every man is to every other. Friendship seems too to hold states together, and lawgivers
to care more for it than for justice; for unanimity seems to be something like friendship,
and this they aim at most of all, and expel faction as their worst enemy; and when men
are friends they have no need of justice, while when they are just they need friendship as
well, and the truest form of justice is thought to be a friendly quality.
But it is not only necessary but also noble; for we praise those who love their friends,
and it is thought to be a fine thing to have many friends; and again we think it is the
same people that are good men and are friends.
Not a few things about friendship are matters of debate. Some define it as a kind of
likeness and say like people are friends, whence come the sayings ‘like to like’, ‘birds of a
feather flock together’, and so on; others on the contrary say ‘two of a trade never agree’.
On this very question they inquire for deeper and more physical causes, Euripides saying
that ‘parched earth loves the rain, and stately heaven when filled with rain loves to fall to
earth’, and Heraclitus that ‘it is what opposes that helps’ and ‘from different tones comes
the fairest tune’ and ‘all things are produced through strife’; while Empedocles, as well as
others, expresses the opposite view that like aims at like. The physical problems we may
leave alone (for they do not belong to the present inquiry); let us examine those which
are human and involve character and feeling, e.g. whether friendship can arise between
any two people or people cannot be friends if they are wicked, and whether there is one
species of friendship or more than one. Those who think there is only one because it
admits of degrees have relied on an inadequate indication; for even things different in
species admit of degree. We have discussed this matter previously.
Now these reasons differ from each other in kind; so, therefore, do the corresponding
forms of love and friendship. There are therefore three kinds of friendship, equal in
number to the things that are lovable; for with respect to each there is a mutual and
recognized love, and those who love each other wish well to each other in that respect in
which they love one another. Now those who love each other for their utility do not love
each other for themselves but in virtue of some good which they get from each other. So
too with those who love for the sake of pleasure; it is not for their character that men
love ready-witted people, but because they find them pleasant. Therefore those who love
for the sake of utility love for the sake of what is good for themselves, and those who
love for the sake of pleasure do so for the sake of what is pleasant to themselves, and not
in so far as the other is the person loved but in so far as he is useful or pleasant. And thus
these friendships are only incidental; for it is not as being the man he is that the loved
person is loved, but as providing some good or pleasure. Such friendships, then, are
easily dissolved, if the parties do not remain like themselves; for if the one party is no
longer pleasant or useful the other ceases to love him.
Now the useful is not permanent but is always changing. Thus when the motive of the
friendship is done away, the friendship is dissolved, inasmuch as it existed only for the
ends in question. This kind of friendship seems to exist chiefly between old people (for
at that age people pursue not the pleasant but the useful) and, of those who are in their
prime or young, between those who pursue u …
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