felicific calculus

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

Widely attributed to British philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), but apparently used only by his successors.[1]

Noun[edit]

felicific calculus (uncountable)

  1. (historical, philosophy, economics) A quasi-mathematical technique proposed by 19th-century utilitarian ethical theorists for determining the net amount of happiness, pleasure, or utility resulting from an action, sometimes regarded as a precursor of cost-benefit analysis.
    • 1918, Wesley C. Mitchell, "Bentham's Felicific Calculus," Political Science Quarterly, vol. 33, no. 2, p. 164:
      Bentham's way of becoming the Newton of the moral world was to develop the "felicific calculus."

Synonyms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The technique of felicific calculus was famously described by Bentham in chapter 4 of An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789), although Bentham did not use the precise term "felicific calculus" in that work.