Bentham, Jeremy (1748-1832)
, by T. Patrick Burke, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism
, 15 Aug 2008
"An action or policy is rational to the extent that it possesses utility, that is, contributes to human happiness. The measure of right and wrong is the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Bentham fleshed out the concept of happiness by reference to four subordinate goals: security (from aggression by others), subsistence, abundance, and equality. The first two goals are more essential to happiness than the second two. Government can do much to provide security, through law, but little to provide subsistence, which must come from the efforts of the individual."
, by James Mill
, Encyclopædia Britannica
Discusses the purpose of government, the means for attaining that end and various related questions and objections; rationalises that representative democracy, as exhibited in early 19th century Britain, is most conducive to "good Government"
"We may allow, for example, in general terms, that the lot of every human being is determined by his pains and pleasures; and that his happiness corresponds with the degree in which his pleasures are great, and his pains are small. Human pains and pleasures are derived from two sources:—They are produced, either by our fellow-men, or by causes independent of other men."
Mill, John Stuart (1806-1873)
, by Aeon Skoble, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism
, 15 Aug 2008
"Mill, in contrast, argued that pleasures could differ in qualitative as well as quantitative ways. Pleasures associated with the exercise and development of the higher faculties were, he maintained, intrinsically more valuable. ... men are capable of appreciating the sorts of things that might bring a pig pleasure (food, sleep, sex), but the pig is incapable of comprehending distinctly human pleasures such as love, drama, or intellectual growth. Pushpin, a relatively mindless children's game, is not as good as poetry, even if one plays for hours, because it neither exercises nor develops the higher faculties."
Murray, Charles (1943-)
, by Brian Doherty, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism
, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical and bibliographical essay
"Murray's late 1960s stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand informed his next book, In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government. Murray decided that, despite the relative destitution of life in the Thai villages he knew, the strength of the communities there allowed him to imagine he could have lived a quite happy life there ... Murray concluded that human beings need self-respect born of satisfaction with their own achievements to be happy, and that the modern state too often deprives people of the opportunity to do things for themselves and their communities."
The Flagellation of the Pursuit of Happiness
, by George Reisman
, 14 Jun 2006
Commentary on Paul Krugman's lamentations about a Senate vote that would abolish the estate tax
"Cutting Medicaid and all other government programs while reducing and eliminating taxes is precisely the policy that is needed to restore the founding principle of the United States, which is the individual's right to the pursuit of his own happiness. ... Implementing it means cutting government spending precisely for the purpose of cutting taxes."
Vices Are Not Crimes: A Vindication of Moral Liberty
, by Lysander Spooner
, Mar 1875
Contrasts crimes and vices, discussing the need to legislate or take other governmental action against the former but not the latter, countering several potential arguments in favor of vice legislation, in particular laws regarding spirituous liquors
"... his right to inquire, investigate, reason, try experiments, judge, and ascertain for himself, what is, to him, virtue, and what is, to him, vice; in other words: what, on the whole, conduces to his happiness, and what, on the whole, tends to his unhappiness. If this great right is not to be left free and open to all, then each man's whole right, as a reasoning human being, to 'liberty and the pursuit of happiness,' is denied him."