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John Stuart Mill and Utilitarianism

analytical Essay
1351 words
1351 words
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A major problem in society John Stuart Mill highlights is that there is not a set standard for judging what makes something right or wrong. Clearing these principles is one of the fundamental steps for consensus on moral thinking. Mill believes that what makes something right or wrong is based on whether it is thought of as “good”. However, this only further raises the question on what is considered good. Mill purposes the goodness as a principle of utility, otherwise known as greatest happiness principle. Whatever brings about the most happiness is what is the most good. While others argue that natural instincts disprove the principle of utility as well as any other standard on morals, Mill believes the consistency of moral beliefs throughout history shows that there is in fact some kind of foundation. The main idea behind the utilitarianism is that all actions are done to bring about the maximum amount of happiness. One could argue that often times what brings happiness for one person can hurt another person. However, Mill’s idea focuses on the maximum happiness of the world at large and not just that of a specific person. Mill’s utilitarianism does not include happiness of a person that results in a general decrease of the happiness of society as a whole. Therefore an action can be labeled as right if it promotes general happiness of a society and wrong if it reverses the happiness of a society. What brings about happiness is pleasure and what reverses happiness is pain. The value of different pleasures is also a point of interest for Mill. Mill’s version of utilitarianism requires a comparison between different types of pleasures. Mill says that pleasure can be measured by both quality and quantity. A pleasure could be consi... ... middle of paper ... ...laves as possible. Is it still valid to call it “good” if one is able to fulfill this desire? Leaving moral judgment to be based off of human desires can turn downhill because sometimes people may desire something that is either trivial, crazy, or atrocious. Those who defend preference utilitarianism may try to set limits on the types of desires good and bad could be based on. For example if a person was found to be extremely uneducated, the goals they would want to achieve may not reflect what they would desire if they knew more about the world. While Mill’s utilitarianism was extremely well thought out, it has its limitations. Similarly, preference utilitarianism also has it flaws. Truthfully, moral thinking and judgment cannot have a straightforward answer. The proper guideline of morality most likely rests somewhere in the middle of these and other theories.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that john stuart mill believes that what makes something right or wrong is based on whether it is thought of as "good". mill uses the goodness as a principle of utility, or greatest happiness principle.
  • Argues that mill's utilitarianism focuses on the maximum happiness of the world at large and not just that of a specific person.
  • Argues that mill's utilitarianism requires a comparison between different types of pleasures. mill believes that high quality pleasure can be measured by both quality and quantity.
  • Analyzes how mill confronts the objection that most virtuous people in history have abandoned and sacrificed their happiness, but he states that the end goal is to bring happiness to others.
  • Explains that mill believes that justice is based off of the principle of utility. rights represent the establishment on which further happiness can be fulfilled.
  • Analyzes how mill's utilitarianism creates loopholes in getting about actions that may be deemed generally immoral simply because they offer a greater good.
  • Explains that mill sees utilitarianism as a great means to judge right and wrong because it incorporates some human feelings and opinions on morals.
  • Explains that mill's utilitarianism with its focus on pleasure alone can be analyzed using the "experience machine" brought forward by nozick.
  • Explains that peter singer's utilitarnism looks at happiness through a different angle. in preference utilitarianism, the maximum good depends on how well the desires of those involved have been fulfilled.
  • Explains that preference utilitarianism can answer questions that mill's more classical utilitarism cannot. if a man wanted to watch legal adult films, mill’s could not explain why he should not watch them.
  • Explains that preference utilitarianism can raise questions, such as if a person desired something as horrible as owning as many slaves as possible.
  • Opines that mill's utilitarianism was well thought out, but it also has its limitations. the proper guideline of morality rests somewhere in the middle of these and other theories.
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