Philosophy: John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism

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Philosophy has offered many works and debates on morality and ethics. One of these works is the concept of utilitarianism. One of the most prominent writers on the theory of utilitarianism is John Stuart Mill. He suggests that utilitarianism may be the guide for morality. His writing on utilitarianism transcends through the present in relation to the famous movie The Matrix. In the movie, people live in a virtual reality where they are relatively happy and content and the real world is filled with a constant struggle to survive. The movie revolves around Neo, who tries to free people from the virtual world in which they live. In light of utilitarianism, freeing these people would be morally wrong. In this essay, I will first explain John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism and some objections it faces. I will then talk about utilitarianism’s relation to The Matrix and why it would be morally wrong to free the people and subject them to the real world. 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... ... middle of paper ... ...h lower bodily pleasure. Since the world is desolate and they must strive for survival, people will have to simply live with their basic needs instead of reaching for better and higher pleasures. In addition, people might live less moral lives in the real world. With the fight for survival, people might result to immoral acts such as stealing and killing. The consequences of these actions would reduce happiness and only cause more people pain. Setting the people free from the virtual reality they live in in The Matrix is morally wrong. Freeing them would only cause them more pain and suffering. John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianism shows that by allowing people to stay in the virtual world they will be more happy than in the real world and thus it will be the best for the general interest of society. Staying in the virtual world will bring about the most utility.

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