Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Pain and human action: Locke to Bentham

Contents:

Author Info

  • Marco E. L. Guidi

    ()
    (Department of Social Studies, Faculty of Economics, University of Brescia)

Abstract

It is one of the assumptions of this paper that what is usually considered as a single hedonistic tradition was in fact the result of very different approaches to the analysis of individual decisions. Some of the differences between these approaches were also discussed by authors who aimed at improving hedonistic analysis, and who intended to use this analysis to discuss ethical and political problems. The interpretation of human action in terms of pleasure and pain was also criticised by authors who opposed hedonism and its utilitarian implications. It is known that many sensationalist philosophers, starting from Locke and Condillac, were attracted by political economy and used their analysis of pain and pleasure to elaborate the principles of economics. The paper explores the role different approaches to pain and pleasure have in the formulation of economic theories. In particular, this paper examines Bentham's criticism to Locke's and Maupertuis's theories of human action. Bentham does not agree with the view that pain - or uneasiness - is the main motive to individual activity. The pessimistic conclusion of this approach - drawn by Maupertuis - is that happiness is nearly impossible in human life, and this conclusion is for Bentham destructive of utilitarian ethics and politics. Such a theory is also implicitly destructive of political economy, inasmuch as for Bentham this science aims at improving the well-being of nations. It is a fact that some exponents of the Italian Enlightenment adopted both Locke's sensationalism and Maupertuis's pessimism. Among them are Gian Maria Ortes, Antonio Genovesi, Cesare Beccaria and Pietro Verri. Locke's approach played also an important role in their economic writings. The paper focuses on the works of Ortes and Verri.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://fausto.eco.unibs.it/~segdss/paper/guidi.rtf
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found. If this is indeed the case, please notify (Segreteria di Dipartimento)
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Brescia, Department of Social Studies in its series Departmental Working Papers with number guidi-19950101-1.

as in new window
Length: 26 pages
Date of creation:
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usb:dipdss:guidi-19950101-1

Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.eco.unibs.it/segdss

Related research

Keywords: Jeremy Bentham; hedonistic theory; Italian economic thought;

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:usb:dipdss:guidi-19950101-1. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Segreteria di Dipartimento) The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Segreteria di Dipartimento to update the entry or send us the correct address.

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.