The moral act of happiness in utilitarianism a book by john stuart mill

A conception implies, and corresponds to, something conceived: Summary[ edit ] Mill took many elements of his version of utilitarianism from Jeremy Benthamthe great nineteenth-century legal reformer, who along with William Paley were the two most influential English utilitarians prior to Mill.

He thought "it is not only impossible but very dangerous to attempt to maximize the pleasure or the happiness of the people, since such an attempt must lead to totalitarianism. The principle of utility is examined in detail in Utilitarianism, during which it is both clarified and defended.

He also notes that, contrary to what its critics might say, there is "no known Epicurean theory of life which does not assign to the pleasures of the intellect… a much higher value as pleasures than to those of mere sensation.

Often, though, we may be unsure what to say. In keeping with his views on distinction between representation and delegation, Mill declined to actively canvass for the seat—indeed, he remained, for most of the campaign, at his home in Avignon. Mill explains at length that the sentiment of justice is actually based on utility, and that rights exist only because they are necessary for human happiness.

Smart as the title to his reply to Popper [58] in which he argued that the principle would entail seeking the quickest and least painful method of killing the entirety of humanity. Mill does not want to demonstrate that we have reason to prefer general happiness to personal happiness.

Longmans, Green, and Co. Finally, it is necessary to consider the extent, or the number of people affected by the action.

It is one thing to say that it could have optimal consequences and thus be objectively better to break a moral rule in a concrete singular case.

Almost ten years earlier Mill had defended utilitarianism against the intuitionistic philosopher William Whewell Whewell on Moral Philosophy. If a hundred breaches of rule homicides, in this case led to a particular harm murderous chaosthen a single breach of rule is responsible for a hundredth of the harm.

Mill's explanation of the concept of utility in his work, Utilitarianism, is that people really do desire happiness, and since each individual desires their own happiness, it must follow that all of us desire the happiness of everyone, contributing to a larger social utility.

But probably he was convinced that precise measurement and comparison of interpersonal utility would not be needed, maybe not even possible.

There is also difficulty in the procedure of comparing alternative acts.

Mill's Moral and Political Philosophy

Mill takes the first subclaim—desirability—to be reasonably uncontentious. However, rule utilitarianism proposes a more central role for rules that was thought to rescue the theory from some of its more devastating criticisms, particularly problems to do with justice and promise keeping.

Wiley-Blackwell Blackwell Great Minds. Paley had justified the use of rules and Mill says: He suggests that it would have been a good thing if plant operators learned lessons that prevented future serious incidents.

John Stuart Mill: Ethics

The critical question, however, is whether the whole of normative ethics can be analyzed in terms of this simple formula.

This makes moral degeneration, but also moral progress possible. One often does not need a thermometer to discern whether or not an object is warmer than another.

He explores a variety of ways in which both external and internal sanctions — that is, the incentives provided by others and the inner feelings of sympathy and conscience — encourage people to think about how their actions affect the happiness of others.

He is not saying that desirable objects are by definition objects which people desire; he writes instead that what people desire is the only evidence for what is desirable.

But, an association, however close, between two ideas, is not a sufficient ground of belief; it is not evidence that the corresponding facts are united in external nature.

This view of pleasure was hedonistic, as it pursued the thought that pleasure is the highest good in life. Furthermore, people can exist without happiness, and all virtuous people have become virtuous by renouncing happiness. In his fifth chapter, Mill writes about the connection between justice and utility, and argues that happiness is the foundation of justice.

Bentham's work opens with a statement of the principle of utility: The question, however, is not what we usually do, but what we ought to do, and it is difficult to see any sound moral justification for the view that distance, or community membership, makes a crucial difference to our obligations.

As well as pleasures of the mind, he holds that pleasures gained in activity are of a higher quality than those gained passively Liberty, XVIII: But Mill shows little interest in principled or absolute modal distinctions between necessary and contingent truths. Intuitively, there are many cases where people do want to take the numbers involved into account.


Hedonism states not only that happiness is intrinsically good, but also that it is the only good and thus the only measure for our action. If one answers this way, then world X would be better than world Y because in this world the absolute number of humans with bad lives would be less.

One case that worried Mill deeply was the role of women in Victorian Britain.John Stuart Mill's book Utilitarianism is a classic exposition and defence of utilitarianism in ethics. The essay first appeared as a series of three articles published in Fraser's Magazine in ; the articles were collected and reprinted as a single book in John Stuart Mill had an IQ of and was trained from a very young age to take up the cause where Jeremy Bentham left off.

I think my biggest takeaway from the book is that one must act with nobility (honor, goodness, decency integrity) when pursuing the Greatest Happiness principle that is Reviews: Utilitarianism John Stuart Mill Chapter 5: The connection between justice and utility28 of moral obligation: Act in such a way that the rule on which you act Happiness theory, and towards such proof as it can be given.

Obviously this can’t be ‘proof’ in the ordinary and popular meaning of that word. Questions about ultimate ends. Though the seeds of the theory can be found in the hedonists Aristippus and Epicurus, who viewed happiness as the only good, the tradition of utilitarianism properly began with Bentham, and has included John Stuart Mill, Henry Sidgwick, R.

M. Hare, David Braybrooke, and Peter Singer. Oct 09,  · John Stuart Mill (–) was the most famous and influential British philosopher of the nineteenth century.

He was one of the last systematic philosophers, making significant contributions in logic, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and social theory. John Stuart Mill: Ethics. The ethical theory of John Stuart Mill () is most extensively articulated in his classical text Utilitarianism ().

Its goal is to justify the utilitarian principle as the foundation of morals. This principle says actions are right in proportion.

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The moral act of happiness in utilitarianism a book by john stuart mill
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