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John Stuart Mill's Selections From Utilitarianism

577 words - 2 pages

John Stuart Mill, a very important philosopher in the 19th century, is one of the earliest advocates of Utilitarianism. In his essay, Selections From Utilitarianism, Mill defines what the theory is and provides his responses to common misconceptions people have against it. Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, states that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (77 Mill). Utilitarianism focuses on the general good of the world over individual pleasure. Although the theory sounds nice, for we all would love world peace, there are a few issues that I have with Mill’s responses that has me questioning the legitimacy of the theory.

Mill explained in his essay that according to Utilitarianism, the moral value of an action relies solely on the outcome of the event, making the theory consequentialist (55, Bennett). Furthermore, he believes that intentions behind actions are insignificant. The only thing that is important is the good deed. The issues that I have with this particular idea is that first, how are people supposed to know what the consequences of their actions are before they do it? A lot of times it is difficult to predict what the result of an action may be, hence why I believe motive is important. I disagree with Mill’s opinion that one’s intentions have little to no importance. Throughout the text, Mill constantly said that one of the most important aspects of utilitarianism is promoting happiness and good deeds. In many cases it is indeed true that when someone sees someone else behaving virtuously, he or she is more inclined to do something good as well. However, there are may scenarios that prove otherwise. In 2008, a crazy man intentionally burned down my family-friend’s company. Instead of giving up, my family...

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