Could you explain how Bentham and Mill differ with respect to comparing pleasures?
Bentham and Mill agree that pleasure alone is valuable, as only that which is experienced directly can
be of value.
Bentham is described as an "ethical hedonist" because he claims pleasure is what we ought to
pursue, and a "psychological hedonist" because pleasure is the only thing we can pursue. In An
Introduction to the Principles of Morals and LegislationBentham lists pleasures as those of the sense,
wealth, skill, amity, good name, piety, memory, imagination etc. Such pleasures are supposedly
available to all men, for which reason Bentham is described as more egalitarian than Mill.
Mill's view is that man has a greater choice of pleasures, and he distinguished between higher and
lower pleasures. Mill thought some kinds of pleasure (the higher ones) were more desirable than
others and that man is capable of coming to desire more rational and imaginative pleasures than
those on Bentham's list such as intoxication and sex which are pleasures of the senses. For Bentham
imaginative pleasure was merely memory of past pleasure and thoughts of future pleasure. This was
not Mill's idea of imaginative pleasure at all — poetry (which Bentham disliked) is an example of a
higher pleasure of the imagination. Mill thought that fostering the capacity for higher pleasures would
increase the mental well-being of mankind.