An analysis of the ethical theory and the principles of utilitarianism by john stuart mill

But developing the theory itself was also influenced by strong views about what was wrong in their society. Paley had justified the use of rules and Mill says: Hume also focused on character evaluation in his system.

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.

A response to this criticism is to point out that whilst seeming to resolve some problems it introduces others.

Utilitarianism Analysis

Originally published as three separate essays inand then in collected form inUtilitarianism, by John Stuart Mill,is one of the best known examinations of utilitarian ethics ever written. Keeping track of all of these parameters can be complicated and time consuming. This is true even though there is a good deal of pleasure, and no pain, in the universe of sadists.

Consider then a situation in which the telling of a lie could prevent five other people from having to lie. One issue raised in the above remarks is relevant to practical deliberation in general. However, this is sufficient to guarantee certain rights, e. Assuming, then, that the average happiness of human beings is a positive quantity, it seems clear that, supposing the average happiness enjoyed remains undiminished, Utilitarianism directs us to make the number enjoying it as great as possible.


Let us take, for example, the physical desire of satisfying hunger. Intuitionists admit that principles rather than the details of morality get intuited. We are the sorts of beings that have social feelings, feelings for others, not just ourselves.

This is one framework through which to understand morality, and Mill defines it as the essential one. He suggests that humans are social by nature and that, as a result, there develops a desire to work for the general happiness of humans as a whole, and a strong internal opposition to acts that are purely self-serving or which lead to greater general unhappiness.

As Alastair Norcross has said, "suppose that Homer is faced with the painful choice between saving Barney from a burning building or saving both Moe and Apu from the building…it is clearly better for Homer to save the larger number, precisely because it is a larger number… Can anyone who really considers the matter seriously honestly claim to believe that it is worse that one person die than that the entire sentient population of the universe be severely mutilated?

For example, enslaving a few might maximize happiness if the needs of the many are thus met. Bentham, in contrast to Mill, represented the egoistic branch — his theory of human nature reflected Hobbesian psychological egoism.

Each based his discussions on assumptions, or first principles, that were not susceptible to scientific proof. Utilitarian philosophy has a long history with roots that stretch as far back as Ancient Greece and, arguably, Ancient China. He acknowledges that this reasoning can occasionally mean that the rights of an individual need to be violated in order to promote the achievement of general happiness.

However, like Bentham, the good still consists in pleasure, it is still a psychological state. And of course, that heavily influences our intuitions.

But one can perhaps surreptitiously maximize total utility irrespective of distributive justice, need or merit e. Few could stand by and watch a child drown; many can ignore the avoidable deaths of children in Africa or India.

Further, the men who would deny women the opportunity for education, self-improvement, and political expression do so out of base motives, and the resulting pleasures are not ones that are of the best sort. Two-level utilitarianism In Principles[53] R. Utility understood this way is a personal preferencein the absence of any objective measurement.

However, the best action the one we should engage in is that which, among the available options, maximizes general utility. Rhetorically, anyway, one can see why this is an important move for Bentham to be able to make. Whatever may be the opinion of utilitarian moralists as to the original conditions by which virtue is made virtue … they not only place virtue at the very head of things which are good as a means to the ultimate end, but they also recognize as a psychological fact the possibility of its being, to the individual, a good in itself, without looking to any end beyond it; and hold, that the mind is not in a right state, not in a state conformable to Utility, not in the state most conducive to the general happiness, unless it does love virtue in this manner … In Utilitarianism Mill argues that virtue not only has instrumental value, but is constitutive of the good life.

Every thing depends upon the evil of the second order; it is this which gives to such actions the character of crime, and which makes punishment necessary. Joachim Hruschka notes, however, that it was Leibniz who first spelled out a utilitarian decision procedure.

It has been argued that rule utilitarianism collapses into act utilitarianism, because for any given rule, in the case where breaking the rule produces more utility, the rule can be refined by the addition of a sub-rule that handles cases like the exception.

It was a doctrine around which a small but influential group of English radical reformers—utilitarians—rallied, Mill among them. Shaftesbury approached moral evaluation via the virtues and vices. This means that utilitarianism, if correctly interpreted, will yield a moral code with a standard of acceptable conduct very much below the level of highest moral perfection, leaving plenty of scope for supererogatory actions exceeding this minimum standard.

Act utilitarianism maintains that an action is right if it maximizes utility; rule utilitarianism maintains that an action is right if it conforms to a rule that maximizes utility.

The "archangel" is the hypothetical person who has perfect knowledge of the situation and no personal biases or weaknesses and always uses critical moral thinking to decide the right thing to do; the "prole" is the hypothetical person who is completely incapable of critical thinking and uses nothing but intuitive moral thinking and, of necessity, has to follow the general moral rules they have been taught or learned through imitation.

Were the offence considered only under this point of view, it would not be easy to assign any good reasons to justify the rigour of the laws. In a later article, McCloskey says: We care about them, and when we perceive harms to them this causes painful experiences in us. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question… [31] Mill argues that if people who are "competently acquainted" with two pleasures show a decided preference for one even if it be accompanied by more discontent and "would not resign it for any quantity of the other", then it is legitimate to regard that pleasure as being superior in quality.The central aim of John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism is to defend the view that those acts that produce the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people are right and good.

This ethical. Summary. Utilitarianism, by John Stuart Mill, is an essay written to provide support for the value of utilitarianism as a moral theory, and to respond to misconceptions about 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.

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.

These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill.

Mill's Proof of Utilitarianism Kant's Deontological Ethical Theory: True Moral Enlightenment. A summary of Chapter 1: General Remarks in John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism.

Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of Utilitarianism and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. One of the geniuses of the modern era, John Stuart Mill coined the term “utilitarianism,” the subject of this brief, five-part essay.

By doing so.

An analysis of the ethical theory and the principles of utilitarianism by john stuart mill
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