Utilitarianism, by John Stuart Mill

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In John Stuart Mill’s work Utilitarianism, Mill is trying to provide proof for his moral theory utilitarianism and disprove all the objections against it. Mill defines utilitarianism as a theory based on the principle that "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness" (Ch. II, page 7). He calls this the “greatest happiness principle. Mill says, “No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except the fact that each person desires his own happiness, so far as he thinks it is attainable. But this is a fact; so we have not only all the proof that could be possibly demanded, that happiness is a good; that each person’s happiness is a good to that person; and therefore that general happiness is a good to the aggregate of all persons. Happiness has made good its claim to be one of the ends of conduct, and consequently one of the criteria of morality” (Ch. IV, page 35). Mill’s book supports his theory that happiness is the sole basis of morality because people never desire anything but happiness and this desire will bring the greatest good for the greater number of people. In the second chapter, Mill provides the definition of utility is the existence of pleasure and the absence of pain, and according to Mill this is happiness. However, he explains that utilitarianism does not say that it is moral for people simply to pursue what makes them happy personally but what is more important to him is the happiness for all people. Mill’s argument is that moral actions are what increase the total amount of utility in the world. Therefore, pursuing one's own happiness at the expense of social happiness would not be moral under his framework. Mill tri... ... middle of paper ... ...ill uses the concept of "first principles" and foundations of morality throughout his essay. For Mill's philosophy he believes everyone must understand what the essential principle of morality is and why it is so special. He explains that this “utility” concept is what he believes is the moral foundation and it is so central to our existence as human beings because it allows for achievement of happiness of people. Works Cited • Mill, John Stuart, and George Sher. Utilitarianism. 2nd ed. London: Hackett Publishing , 1895. Print. • Kant, Immanuel, and James W. Ellington. Grounding for the metaphysics of morals. Indianapolis, Ind.: Hackett Pub. Co., 1981. Print. • Le Guin, Ursula K. “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” Craig P. Dunn, Ph.D. and San Diego State University. Web. 10 October, 2013.

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