Utilitarianism Supports Mill 's Liberty Principle

1391 Words6 Pages
The purpose of this paper is to explain how Utilitarianism supports Mill’s Liberty Principle. The Liberty Principle, or harm principle, simply states that the only way someone can stop another person from doing what they want, against their will, is if it will cause harm to others. On the other hand, Utilitarianism, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, is basically stating that the goal of an action or event is to make the most people the happiest. In reference to the greatest happiness principle, the opposite of happiness is not necessarily sadness but is simply referred to as the “opposite of happy;” and this is important to keep in mind when listening to the argument that I will present later on in the paper. I find that the following considerations: the definitions of both the harm principle and utilitarianism, and specific quotes from Mill’s book “On Liberty;” provide a convincing argument as to why utilitarian’s should in fact support Mill’s liberty principle. First, in this paragraph I will be defining in detail and explaining elements of Mill’s liberty principle or harm principle. Mill defined it best when he wrote these two passages, “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others” (Mill). The other passage is, “The only freedom which deserves the name is that pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest... ... middle of paper ... ...urther support my argument. A person not fond of the liberty principle may say that in order to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure, one must harm others, if that is what will bring them pleasure. This does not violate the harm principle, but what it does is state a reason for utilitarians not to follow the harm principle. I refute this objection because in order to achieve the maximum amount of pleasure in utilitarianism, one must justify an action based on how much pleasure the most amount of people are getting out of it. If it harms someone in the process, then the liberty principle is not being followed. Another main argument that I will use to support my stance is that people tend to be good at pursuing their own happiness or pleasure. Since they want to get the most happiness they can, utilitarianism will most likely prefer to leave people to themselves.
Open Document