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But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail?

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The question is not, Can they reason? 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. Every opening, which promised to afford the lights he stood in need of, was still pursued: as occasion arose, the several departments connected with that in which he had at first engaged, were successively explored; insomuch that, in one branch or other of the pursuit, his researches have nearly embraced the whole field of legislation.

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Excerpt The following sheets were, as the note on the opposite page expresses, printed so long ago as the year In short, man should seek to maximise pleasure, but ethically. Bentham considers pleasure and pain in terms of behaviour, consequences and the law. As he says famously in chapter 1 , '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. He broadens his ethical purview further. He goes on to propose a method for measuring pleasure over pain.

Concerned to make a measured and clear argument at all times, Bentham did not set out to produce a work in a popular style. Nevertheless, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation is an important work, a milestone in English philosophy and one that has wielded a considerable influence, even to the present day.


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Your audiobook is waiting…. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. By: Jeremy Bentham. Narrated by: Andrew Cullum. Length: 17 hrs and 4 mins. Categories: Nonfiction , Philosophy. People who bought this also bought Robinson Length: 30 hrs and 11 mins Original Recording Overall. Publisher's Summary Jeremy Bentham , the English philosopher, writer on law and political radical, was an extraordinary individual.

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