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Bentham’s Hedonic Calculus Definition

Bentham’s Hedonic calculus has a utilitarianism approach towards evaluation of actions at their optima level. The concept is based on estimation of pain and pleasure caused by an action. Consequently, the whole sum of its consequences. In this context, the consideration of whether an act is morally right or wrong, the resultant pleasures are pains from an action are observed. The pleasures are measured in terms of duration, intensity, fecundity and certainty.


Hedonic Calculus or Felicific Calculus

Ideally, the next step is a consideration of the alternative causes of the action. Using this concept, it would be simple to identify acts, which have the best tendencies and consequently right. Personally, I have a grief problem in associating with peers. In most cases, I fall out with them due to lack of understanding in our arguments on various social issues. The problem is that I feel my ego hurt so much when a peer downplays my opinion that it leads to a bitter exchange of words. Using Bentham’s Hedonic Calculus, my problem would apply to the first category in my attempt to identify the intensity of pleasure or pain my action causes.

Although intensity can be possibly measured, it only possible to approximate pain by using a scale, but pleasure it definitely immeasurable. An individual is asked to match the felt pain against the pain scale. In my case, the peers who are victims of my bitter exchange of words would be able to establish the mental turmoil caused by the exchange of words. However, I would have no way to estimate the value of pleasure out of the self-pride in calling names of my peers.

Hedonic Calculus Strengths and Weaknesses

Secondly, the duration category of the calculus falls short on my problem since Bentham’s concept does not consider the psychological subjectivity of time in which pain is perceived. In fact, it is possible to approximate physical pain in terms of minutes, but psychologically inward experience does not show the perception of time. In reference, to the category of certainty it is possible to apply the calculus in resolving my problem since experience would serve as a guide in tackling the issue.

However, the category of propinquity would also depend on experience to some extent since it focuses on the duration one has to wait for pleasure to happen. This category would apply to my problem as well. Purity, the sixth category is quite ambiguous since each pain, seems to be produced by the pain before it. For instance, my problem is recurrent and emerges from the previous encounters. Lastly, the category of extent is the measure of the effect of an action on the parties it affects. This category would not apply to my problem since there is no means of calculating and adding up the pain for every person involved.


In conclusion, an action would be morally accepted as right on the basis that it results in happiness for most parties involved. Therefore, my problem could be categorized as wrong act since it causes pain to most parties involved.

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