Jeremy Bentham (1789) wrote that the moral worth of all action should be judged by the degree to which it contributes to the 'greater happiness of a greater number'. This philosophy is still object of much controversy (Smart & Williams 1973). The following objections have been raised. 1) Happiness is undefined, hence the philosophy is meaningless. 2) Happiness is immeasurable, hence the philosophy lacks consequence, 3) Happiness is fleeting, enduring happiness is hence impossible. 4) Happiness is for a happy few, happiness for the 'great number' is hence illusionary. 5) Happiness is relative, 'greater' happiness is hence impracticable. 6) Happiness spoils, great happiness for a great number is hence undesirable. 7) Given this, we better aim at more tangible worth, like social justice and psychological autonomy.Happiness became the subject of empirical research in the 1960's. To date 3300 studies have considered the matter, listed in the World Database of Happiness (website below) and recently reviewed by Diener (1999) and Argyle (2002). From the perspective of this research the objections appear to be erroneous.
Veenhoven, R.. (2003). Happiness. The Psychologist. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/8674