A Table of the Springs of Action
Added by Bentham after the First Edition:
Since the printing of this Tract, the following apposite passage
from Helvetius was discovered, and pointed out to the Author:
``Chaque passion a donc ses tours, ses expressions,
et sa manière particulière de s'exprimer: aussi l'homme qui, par une analyse exacte des phrases et des expressions dont se
servent les différentes passions, donneroit le signe auquel on peut les reconnoître, mériteroit sans doute infiniment de la
reconnaissance publique. C'est alors qu'on pourroit, dans le faisceau de sentiments qui produisent chaque acte de notre volonté,
distinguer du moins le sentiment qui domine en nous. Jusques-là hommes s'ignoreront eux-memes, et tomberont, en fait de sentiments,
dans les erreurs les plus grossières.
Helvetius, de l'Esprit. Tom. ii. Disc. iv. Ch. ii. p. 305.
Original title page
No. I Pleasures and Pains of the Taste---the Palate,
No. II Pleasures and Pains of the Sexual Appetite.
No. III Pleasures and Pains of Sense, of the Senses.
IV Pleasures and Pains derived from the Matter of Wealth.
No. V Pleasures and Pains of Power, Influence, Authority, &c.
No. VI Pleasures and Pains of Curiosity.
No. VII Pleasures and Pains of Amity.
No. VIII Pleasures and Pains of
the Moral or Popular Sanction.
No. IX Pleasures and Pains of the Religious Sanction.
No. X Pleasures and Pains of
No. XI Pleasures and Pains of Antipathy.
No. XII Pains of Labour.
No. XIII Pains of Death, and Bodily
No. XIV Pleasures and Pains of the Self-Regarding Class.
Explanations of the Table
Observations on the
Section 1 Pleasures and Pains the basis of all the other entities: these the only real ones; those, fictitious,
Section 2 No Act, properly speaking, disinterested,
Section 3 Appellatives Euglogistic, Dyslogistic, and Neutral--Cause
of their comparative penury and abundance, as applied to Springs of Action,
Section 4 Good and Bad---Attributives, applied
to species of Motives: impropriety of the application---its causes and effects,
Section 5 Proper subjects of the attributives
good and bad are consequences, intentions, acts, habits, dispositions, inclinations, and propensities: so of the attributives
virtuous and vitious, except consequences: how as to interests and desires,
Section 6 Causes of misjudgment and misconduct---intellectual
weakness, inborn and adoptive---sinister interest, and interest-begotten prejudice,
Section 7 Simultaneously operating
motives---co-operating, conflicting, or both,
Section 8 SUBSTITUTION OF MOTIVES. Acts produced by one motive, commonly
ascribed to another.---Causes of this misrepresentation
Jeremy's Labyrinth Home Page
Classical Utilitarianism Home Page
Last modified: Thu May 11 15:26:04 CDT 2000
The Rationale of Punishment
Of the Ends of Punishment
When any act has been committed which is followed, or threatens to be followed, by such
effects as a provident legislator would be anxious to prevent, two wishes naturally and immediately suggest themselves to
his mind: first, to obviate the danger of the like mischief in future: secondly, to compensate the mischief that has already
The mischief likely to ensue from acts of the like kind may arise from either of two sources,either the
conduct of the party himself who has been the author of the mischief already done, or the conduct of such other persons as
may have adequate motives and sufficient opportunities to do the like.
Hence the prevention of offenses divides itself
into two branches: Particular prevention, which applies to the delinquent himself; and general prevention, which is applicable
to all the members of the community without exception.
Pain and pleasure are the great springs of human action. When
a man perceives or supposes pain to be the consequence of an act, he is acted upon in such a manner as tends, with a certain
force, to withdraw him, as it were, from the commission of that act. If the apparent magnitude, or rather value of that pain
be greater than the apparent magnitude or value of the pleasure or good he expects to be the consequence of the act, he will
be absolutely prevented from performing it. The mischief which would have ensued from the act, if performed, will also by
that means be prevented.
With respect to a given individual, the recurrence of an offense may be provided against
in three ways:
By taking from him the physical power of offending.
By taking away the desire of offending.
making him afraid of offending.
In the first case, the individual can no more commit the offense; in the second, he
no longer desires to commit it; in the third, he may still wish to commit it, but he no longer dares to do it. In the first
case, there is a physical incapacity; in the second, a moral reformation; in the third, there is intimidation or terror of
General prevention is effected by the denunciation of punishment, and by its application, which, according
to the common expression, serves for an example. The punishment suffered by the offender presents to every one an example
of what he himself will have to suffer if he is guilty of the same offense..
General prevention ought to be the chief
end of punishment, as it is its real justification. If we could consider an offence which has been committed as an isolated
fact, the like of which would never recur, punishment would be useless. It would be only adding one evil to another. But when
we consider that an unpunished crime leaves the path of crime open not only to the same delinquent, but also to all those
who may have the same motives and opportunities for entering upon it, we perceive that the punishment inflicted on the individual
becomes a source of security to all. That punishment, which, considered in itself, appeared base and repugnant to all generous
sentiments, is elevated to the first rank of benefits, when it is regarded not as an act of wrath or of vengeance against
a guilty or unfortunate individual who has given way to mischievous inclinations, but as an indispensable sacrifice to the
With respect to any particular delinquent, we have seen that punishment has three objects, incapacitation,
reformation, and intimidation. If the crime he has committed is of a kind calculated to inspire great alarm, as manifesting
a very mischievous disposition, it becomes necessary to take from him the power of committing it again. But if the crime,
being less dangerous, only justifies a transient punishment, and it is possible for the delinquent to return to society, it
is proper that the punishment should possess qualities calculated to reform or to intimidate him.
After having provided
for the prevention of future crimes, reparation still remains to be made, as far as possible, for those which are passed,
by bestowing a compensation on the party injured; that is to say, bestowing a good equal to the evil suffered.
compensation, founded upon reasons which have been elsewhere developed, does not at first view appear to belong to the subject
of punishments, because it concerns another individual than the delinquent. But these two ends have a real connexion. There
are punishments which have the double effect of affording compensation to the party injured, and of inflicting a proportionate
suffering on the delinquent; so that these two ends may be effected by a single operation. This is, in certain cases, the
peculiar advantage of pecuniary punishments.
[RP, Book I, Chapter II] [RP, Book I, Chapter IV]