John Stuart Mill, a very important philosopher in the 19th century, is one of the earliest advocates of Utilitarianism. In his essay, Selections From Utilitarianism, Mill defines what the theory is and provides his responses to common misconceptions people have against it. Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, states that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (77 Mill). Utilitarianism focuses on the general good of the world over individual pleasure. Although the theory sounds nice, for we all would love world peace, there are a few issues that I have with Mill’s responses that has me questioning the legitimacy of the theory. Mill explained in his essay that according to Utilitarianism, the moral value of an action relies solely on the outcome of the event, making the theory consequentialist (55, Bennett). Furthermore, he believes that intentions behind actions are insignificant. The only thing that is important is the good deed. The issues that I have with this particular idea is th...
...f it is unrecognizable to the eye. The standard that he is referring to is the principle of utility, which is also referred to as the “greatest happiness principle.” Mill makes it clear that utilitarianism has had great impact in shaping a moral basis of principles.
Utilitarianism defined, is the contention that a man should judge everything based on the ability to promote the greatest individual happiness. In other words Utilitarianism states that good is what brings the most happiness to the most people. John Stuart Mill based his utilitarian principle on the decisions that we make. He says the decisions should always benefit the most people as much as possible no matter what the consequences might be. Mill says that we should weigh the outcomes and make our decisions based on the outcome that benefits the majority of the people. This leads to him stating that pleasure is the only desirable consequence of our decision or actions. Mill believes that human beings are endowed with the ability for conscious thought, and they are not satisfied with physical pleasures, but they strive to achieve pleasure of the mind as well.
In order for the insistence that equity and impartiality to hold true to Mill's Utility, we must find a foundation from within his argumentation that will support it. Thus we turn to Mill's sanctions, or incentives that he proposes to drive one towards the path of Utility. Mill's first sanction, the internal sanction, leads one to act ethically because of the fear of displeasure that might arise from other people if one does not act in this manner. Mill justifies that individuals desire the warmness of others as an incentive to acting unselfishly in the attempt to acquire the greatest good, and fear the dissatisfaction of others. Mill's second sanction, the internal sanction, is in essence an individual's inner conscience. With the assumption that the conscience is pure and free from corruption, Mill implies that satisfaction is brought forth to the conscience when one successfully and ethically commits to one's duties, the duty of Utility. What is undesired is the feeling of dissatisfaction that spawns when one does not act dutifully. In order for this rationale to make sense, one must do what is almost unavoid...
To kill or let live will explore the utilitarian views of John Stuart Mill, as well as the deontological views of Immanuel Kant on the thought experiment derived from British Philosopher Philippa Foot. Foot had great influence in the advancement of the naturalistic point of view of moral philosophy. The exploration of Philippa Foot’s Rescue I and Rescue II scenarios will provide the different views on moral philosophy through the eyes of John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant.
Utilitarianism, a book written by John Stuart Mill during mid 19th century in England, encompasses Mill’s major viewpoints about the constructs of pleasure and pain for human beings; as well as utility in itself as a way of promoting political and social goals. As Mill quotes, “A cultivated mind, that is any mind to which the fountains of knowledge have been opened and which have been taught to exercises its faculties-find sources of inexhaustible interest in all that surrounds it; in nature, art, poetry, history, and the ways of man of past and their prospects for the future” (Mill, Utilitarianism, p. 372). This passage directly connects to Mill’s interpretation of Utilitarianism which is ultimately achieving happiness, or least one of his
Case: You are at home one evening with your family, when all of a sudden, a man throws open the door. He’s holding a shotgun in his hands, and he points it directly at your family. It seems he hasn’t seen you yet. You quietly and carefully retrieve the pistol your father keeps in his room for home protection. Are you morally allowed to use the pistol to kill the home invader?
Utilitarianism’s purpose, according to Mill, is to make what the individual subconsciously desires and make that desire a reality. If an individual doesn’t know what options he or she has, they don’t have the capacity to make the best decision. Mill emphasizes this by relating happiness to the visibility of an object. If an object isn’t visible, then to most, the object doesn’t exist, as is the same with happiness. Mill’s argument sheds light on the individual more so than the group in his interpretation of Utilitarianism. As I stated previously, Mill doesn’t quantify his interpretation of Utilitarianism. Instead, concepts such as morality, are based internally as opposed to externally. Everyone has the potential to decide for themselves whether their actions are moral or not. Through doing this, Mill addressed most of the criticisms toward Utilitarianism. However, Kant’s Categorical Imperative acts more as a decision rule for action instead of universal
Mill understands the Utilitarian principle to the full of it 's extent, he also understands why a person would disregard the theory, and there goes on to unravel the seemingly missing puzzle pieces to connect the theory completely, and correctly. His argurment reflects that of his own thoughts and opinions on the philosophy of the overall good of the population, concerning what is considered good by the measurement of happiness and pleasure. This in turn is where the second term for Utilitarianims comes from, as it is call the Greatest Happiness Principle. In his text, Mr. Mill states that this principle "holds that actiosn are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness" (96). Following this idea, he explains that happiness holds the absence of pain and the reverse of that, there holds the "privation of pleasure" (Mill 96). John Mill says that this is exactly what happiness and pleasure consist of. What is considered controversial on this particular theory is the simplicty of the definind words. The greatest happiness principle concerns happiness and pleasure, to the simple or closed minded this sounds degrading to humans or anyone who believes in it. John Mill argues for this principle and against the simple minded people that would judge the Epicureans for practicing
In John Stuart Mill’s “Utilitarianism”, Mill generates his thoughts on what Utilitarianism is in chapter 2 of his work. Mill first starts off this chapter by saying that many people misunderstand utilitarianism by interpreting utility as in opposition to pleasure. When in reality, utility is defined
...ry. Some may reject it and have the objection that utilitarianism does not provide an effective way of life. Those who object may say that this moral theory is not good or specific enough, lacks a mention of full human potential and capabilities, and fails to address the special moral values of humans. Mill provides an effective response to those who doubt utilitarianism, and states that there is only one end (happiness) that humans aim for and that humans and humans alone are the only ones who can judge and experience all pleasures and qualities of life.
John Stuart Mill claims that people often misinterpret utility as the test for right and wrong. This definition of utility restricts the term and denounces its meaning to being opposed to pleasure. Mill defines utility as units of happiness caused by an action without the unhappiness caused by an action. He calls this the Greatest Happiness Principle or the Principle of Utility. Mill’s principle states that actions are right when they tend to promote happiness and are wrong when they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. Happiness is defined as intended pleasure and the absence of pain while unhappiness is defined as pain and the lack of pleasure. Therefore, Mill claims, pleasure and happiness are the only things desirable and good. Mill’s definition of utilitarianism claims that act...
In his essay, Utilitarianism Mill elaborates on Utilitarianism as a moral theory and responds to misconceptions about it. Utilitarianism, in Mill’s words, is the view that »actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.«1 In that way, Utilitarianism offers an answer to the fundamental question Ethics is concerned about: ‘How should one live?’ or ‘What is the good or right way to live?’.
Mill begins his essay on Utilitarianism by explaining his Greatest Happiness Principle, stating actions are right in that they promote happiness and actions are wrong if they take happiness away (Mill, “What Utilitarianism Is,” para 2). Following from this idea, happiness is pleasure, and unhappiness is pain and the privation of pleasure (Mill, “What Utilitarianism Is,” para 2). In defending the equivalence between happiness and pleasure from his critics, Mill makes the claim that there is “the superiority of mental over bodily pleasures chiefly in the greater permanency, safety, uncostliness, etc., of the former” (Mill, “What Utilitarianism Is,” para 4). He claims that pleasures can differ both in quality and qua...
In this paper I will present and critically assess the concept of the principle of utility as given by John Stuart Mill. In the essay “What Utilitarianism Is” #, Mill presents the theory of Utilitarianism, which he summarizes in his “utility” or “greatest happiness principle” # (Mill 89). Mill’s focus is based on an action’s resulting “happiness,” # pleasure and absences of pain, or “unhappiness,” # discomfort and the nonexistence of contentment, rather than the intentions involved (Mill 89). After evaluating Mill’s principle, I will then end this essay by discussing my personal opinion about the doctrine and how I believe it can be altered to better suit real-life situations.