In this paper, I will define and explain Utilitarianism, then evaluate the proofs made to support it. In the nineteenth century, the philosophy of Utilitarianism was developed by John Stuart Mill. Utilitarianism is the theory that man should judge everything in life based upon its ability to promote the greatest individual happiness. While Jeremy Bentham is acknowledged as the father of Utilitarianism, it was Mill who defended its structure through reason. He continually reasoned that because human beings are capable of achieving conscious thought, they are not simply satisfied by physical pleasures; humans desire to pleasure their minds as well. Once a person has achieved this high intellectual level, they do not want to descend to the lower level of intellect where they began. Mill explains that “pleasure, and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends” (Cahn, Exploring Ethics, p115). Before addressing his argument, Mill defines the topic, “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, ‘Utility’, or the ‘Greatest Happiness Principle’, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure” (Cahn, Exploring Ethics, p114). Mill then provides objections to the utilitarian principle, which he then attempts to refute. Mill says that pleasure has rather arrogantly been displayed as being nothing more than attempting to keep a pig satisfied. However, human beings have the intellectual capacity for reason, therefore they should desire something more. Mill argues that is exactly what man does. In Utilitarianism, humans do not si...
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...le to require that happiness is a good” (Cahn, Exploring Ethics, p122). Simply put, the typical qualities of desire for happiness do not apply. Happiness may mean different things to different people but if the quest of these desires does not inflict pain on others, this is an acceptable means to an end. Mill is ultimately successful in that he points out that contrary to popular belief, utilitarianism is not a completely selfish motivation that does not take into consideration the desires of others.
In his final analysis, Mills succeeded in proving his view by noting that happiness is not a all-inclusive term. It is composed of many elements and represents different things to different people. No matter if the intention is focused on wealth, fame, or virtue, they are simply employing different means to the same end, which includes pleasures and freedom from pains.
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