John Stuart Mill 's Utilitarianism Essay

John Stuart Mill 's Utilitarianism Essay

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In order to understand John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism we must first understand his history and motives in writing the series of essays. Mill had many influencers most notably his father James Mill and the father of Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham. James grew up poor but was influenced by his mother, who had high hopes for the formerly named Milne family, and educated himself becoming a preacher and then executive in the East India Company. James was a proponent of empiricism and believed in John Locke’s idea of man being born as a blank slate. James did not send his son John to school, teaching him rigorously from the early age of three. Despite his father’s emphasis on the blank slate, Mill was criticized for being a manufactured man because of his many influencers. Bentham did want Mill to be the next great philosopher to expand the doctrine of Utilitarianism, so maybe the critics had a point. Nevertheless, most great men must learn from and expand on their predecessors and Mill came to accept his role as the new leader of the Utilitarian movement but only after some tumultuous times at the age of twenty.
Mill studied law under the Utilitarian John Austin and while studying adopted Bentham’s Greatest Happiness Principle as one of his central beliefs. When his father was promoted at the East India Company, John took his place. Mill wrote that he only needed to work four hours a day at his job and the rest of his time could be spent ruminating, writing, and discussing ideas. He discussed his ideas at the Utilitarian Society, which he formed at Bentham’s home and wrote for a scholarly journal setup by Bentham called The Westminster Review. Mill fell in love in 1830 with a married woman named Harriet who he married after her h...


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...re creates a problem. If pleasure is the final good then more of a lower pleasure should be able to eventually overtake the value of a higher pleasure, which Mill denies is possible. Crisp says that one could say that the idea that higher pleasures have some intrinsically higher value due to dignity means that dignity itself is a good separate from pleasure, which would strip Mill of his status as a full hedonist (Crisp 32-35). Mill would argue in defense of his hedonism by saying that dignity along with a pleasure makes the combination much more pleasurable. Thus dignity is still just adding to the pleasure of the good and is not adding value through self-realization alone. Mill thinks it is brute fact that some pleasures are intrinsically more valuable, and some facts in all philosophical teachings have to be accepted as true or else there is nothing to build from.

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