Along with other noted philosophers, John Stuart Mill developed the nineteenth century philosophy known as Utilitarianism - the contention that man should judge everything in life based upon its ability to promote the greatest individual happiness. While Bentham, in particular, is acknowledged as the philosophy’s founder, it was Mill who justified the axiom through reason. He maintained that because human beings are endowed with the ability for conscious thought, they are not merely satisfied with physical pleasures; humans strive to achieve pleasures of the mind as well. Once man has ascended to this high intellectual level, he desires to stay there, never descending to the lower level of existence from which he began. In Chapter 2 of Utilitarianism, Mill contends that “pleasure, and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends” (Mill, 7). 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” (Mill, 7). Like a true philosopher, Mill proposes objections to the utilitarian principle, which he then attempts to refute. Pleasure, according to Mill, has rather arrogantly been regarded as being little more than attempting to keep a pig satisfied. Because man has the intellectual capacity for reason, he should aspire for something more. Mill argues that is exactly what man does. He does not merely attempt to seek momentary pleasure, but in utilitarianism, has the option to choose that which provides him with the most pleasure.
According to Mill, “Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure” (Mill 8). Many have refuted Utilitarianism’s ideals and declared that man can live just as well without happiness. Mill acknowledges that this may be true in theory, that men do not conduct their lives in total pursuit of happiness, they still need a gauge with which to measure morality. Happiness ...
... middle of paper ...
This, however, being a fact, we have not only all the proof which the case admits of, but all which it is possible to require that happiness is a good” (Mill 27). Simply, the normal rules concerning one’s desire for happiness do not apply. Happiness may mean different things to different people but as long as the quest of these desires do 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.
Virtue, while not completely synonymous with happiness, is a constituent of it. Thus, it is an attribute desirable to society as a whole. One who causes pain in others cannot be described as virtuous. In the final analysis, John Stuart Mill successfully proved his view by noting that happiness is not a completely comprehensive term. It is comprised of many components and represents different things to different people. Whether one is intent on wealthy, famous, or vituous, he is merely exercising different means to the same end which includes pleasures and freedom from pains.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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.... [tags: Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham]
1037 words (3 pages)
- Along with other noted philosophers, John Stuart Mill developed the nineteenth century philosophy known as Utilitarianism - the contention that man should judge everything in life based upon its ability to promote the greatest individual happiness. While Bentham is acknowledged as the philosophy’s founder, it was Mill who justified the axiom through reason. He maintained that because human beings are endowed with the ability for conscious thought, they are not merely satisfied with physical pleasures; humans strive to achieve pleasures of the mind as well.... [tags: Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill, Pleasure]
978 words (2.8 pages)
- John Stuart Mill explores the order of pleasures throughout the second chapter (“What Utilitarianism Is”) of his master ethical composition, Utilitarianism. When determining the quality of two pleasures, Mill firmly asserts that the superior pleasure is distinguished by the “decided preference” of those who have experienced both (8). Mill expands on this claim in subsequent paragraphs, contending that one finds greater pleasure in increasingly intellectual activities. In summation, Mill claims that (I.) usually, intellectual pleasures are higher in order than base pleasures, and (II.) a more intelligent person can access superior pleasures than a person of lower faculties.... [tags: Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill, Hedonism]
1068 words (3.1 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill]
1574 words (4.5 pages)
- John Stuart Mill and Utilitarianism Utilitarianism defined, is the contention that a man should judge everything based on the ability to promote the greatest individual happiness. In other words Utilitarianism states that good is what brings the most happiness to the most people. John Stuart Mill based his utilitarian principle on the decisions that we make. He says the decisions should always benefit the most people as much as possible no matter what the consequences might be. Mill says that we should weigh the outcomes and make our decisions based on the outcome that benefits the majority of the people.... [tags: Philosophy Morality John Stuart Mill ]
1321 words (3.8 pages)
- John Stuart Mill’s theory of Utilitarianism is a moral consequentialist view that maintains actions are good if they lead to happiness and bad if they lead to suffering. The same rationale can be applied to obstruction—whatever prevents suffering is morally good, and whatever prevents happiness is morally bad. It should be noted Mill characterizes happiness as “pleasure and the absence of pain” (104). He also puts forth that intellectual pleasures—such as the satisfaction that comes with finishing a paper, or having a successful long-term friendship—are better than the animalistic pleasures taken in eating or sex.... [tags: Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill, Suffering]
862 words (2.5 pages)
- Concerning the utilitarian philosophy, the term refers to the idea what is considered to be the greatest good for the overall population, what decision will produce the greatest good for all. In this essay, the ideas of John Stuart Mill is addressing the topic Utilitarianism, and will be presented throughout the essay. Mr. Mill goes on to argue that not only is utilitarianism seen wrongly because of the simplicity to misunderstand it 's meaning, but that human beings fail to grasp the whole of the theory.... [tags: Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill, Ethics]
1522 words (4.3 pages)
- John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) completely changed definition of nineteenth century British views and political discussion. Mill argues for essential experimentation in logic and mathematics implying the primary principles of logic and mathematics are observations instead than know as a priori. Mill's principle of utility is that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (Mills, J., 1852), this was Mill's focus on ethical philosophy.... [tags: utilitarianism, philosophy]
868 words (2.5 pages)
- What is happiness. People have agonized over this question for centuries. Let me start this essay by answering a somewhat easier question: what isn’t happiness. Happiness is NOT feeling good all the time. Happiness is a combination of human emotions and states of mind. Exploring this state of being has consumed the philosophical minds of the ages and will continue to do so for ages to come. In an unofficial poll of students at State University, I found that of the fifty-eight students and one professor, males and females of several ethnic backgrounds and age groups, that I asked the question "What is happiness to you?", all of them had very different physical, intellectual, or emotional moti... [tags: John Stuart Mill Essays]
767 words (2.2 pages)
- Majorities tend to prevent any opportunity that a minority group might have to gain support for a contradicting opinion. It is incredibly easy for members of society to abandon their beliefs in the midst of an overpowering majority. This process leads to an unequal society in which the rights of the people are restricted. In the essays, On Liberty and On Representative Government, written by John Stuart Mill, there is a concern for the "tyranny of the majority." He expresses his concern in, On Liberty, by supporting an increase in individual liberties.... [tags: Philosophy]
1363 words (3.9 pages)