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UTILITARIANISM. MILL. Ansay | Baniaga | CHUA | Harder | RAMA. John Stuart Mill. - English Philosopher - Born 20 May 1806 in London - Educated by his father, James Mill - Began a career at India house under his father in 1823 - Became a member of a small utilitarian society

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Ansay | Baniaga | CHUA | Harder | RAMA

john stuart mill
John Stuart Mill

- English Philosopher

- Born 20 May 1806 in London

- Educated by his father, James Mill

- Began a career at India house under his father in 1823

- Became a member of a small utilitarian society

- Took part in various discussions

- Became a frequent orator in London Debating Society

- Best known for his essay On Liberty

- Published Utilitarianism in 1863

- Died in 8 May 1873


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

Pleasure and theAbsence of Pain

are the only things inherently good.

Any experience is desirable only because

it is a source for such pleasure.

Actions are good when they lead to a higher level

of general happiness

Utilitarianism takes into account not just the quantity but also

the quality of pleasures resulting from it.

difference of quality in pleasure
Difference of Quality in Pleasure
  • There is a higher and lower quality pleasures
  • It of higher quality if people would choose it over a different pleasure even if accompanied by discomfort.
  • Given equal access to all kinds of pleasures, people will prefer those that appeal to their higher faculties.
  • Once people are made aware of their higher pleasures, they will never be happy to leave them uncultivated.
  • Even though a person who uses higher pleasures often suffers more in life, he would never choose a lower existence, preferring instead to maintain his dignity.
objections mill s answers
Objections-Mill’s Answers

“Happiness couldn’t be the rational aim of human life because it is unattainable.”

“Happiness is not a life of rapture, but moments of such, in an existence made up of few transitory pains, many and various pleasures [sic]”

objections mill s answers1
Objections-Mill’s Answers

“Utilitarianism is a godless doctrine.”

“... the question depends upon what idea we have formed of the character of the Deity.”

objections mill s answers2
Objections-Mill’s Answers

“Utilitarianism is immoral because of Expediency.”

“But the Expedient, in the sense in which

it is opposed to the Right, generally means that which is expedient for the particular interest of the agent himself... is expedient for some immediate object, some temporary purpose, but which violates a rule whose observance expedient in a much higher degree.”


Principle of utility has all the sanctions of any other moral system

ultimate sanction of utility
Ultimate Sanction of Utility

“Conscientious feelings of mankind”

  • Transcendental fact VS Pure subjectivity
  • “Do I need to obey my conscience?”
  • Moral feelings are not innate but acquired, but no less natural and can be cultivated in almost any direction
social aspect
Social Aspect

Basis of powerful natural sentiment: social feeling of mankind

“desire to be in unity with our fellow creatures”

“It does not present itself to their minds as a superstition of education, or a law despotically imposed by the power of society, but as an attribute which would not be well for them to be without.” - Mill
Significant because happiness deals with everyone

Utilitarianism is social in nature

-It puts happiness at the forefront directing people

-assume people want happiness as the ends

case 1 organ donor baby moral dilemma
Case 1: Organ donor baby moral dilemma

Twist: Other family members were involved

> Utilitarianism would either have:

a. called for a family vote

b. determined organs were for the greater good

case 2 the dark knight 2008 film
Case 2: The Dark Knight (2008 film)

Recall last scene: “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now…”

- A Utilitarian would agree

- But... was it “just”?

case 3 parent chosen life path
Case 3: Parent-chosen life path

Family’s happiness vs. personal happiness

(context: well-off family)

- A Utilitarian would probably say follow your parents

* Happiness of one vs. many

* Parents (supposedly) know best

Could one’s happiness be a negative end for others?

If everyone seeked their own happiness, there would be consequences.

“Utilitarianism seems to be selfish. At some point in your life, you also have to prioritize and think about yourself.” -Maymay

It seems to be too flexible.

Agent-neutrality is bothering.

It’s very economical.