Liberals At Odds Essay

903 words - 4 pages

This essay will analyze utilitarianism. James Mill and John Stuart Mill argue for utilitarianism as the correct means for liberalism to prosper. Though other philosophers, such as T.H. Green, disagree with utilitarianism as the correct means to allow liberalism to prosper. First one must have a definition of utilitarianism in order to argue for or against it. Andrew Heywood defines utilitarianism as a moral philosophy that assumes individuals act in a way to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Heywood’s definition represents the commonly held definition of utilitarianism. An overarching issue with all of these philosophers whether for or against utilitarianism is there assumption of what ...view middle of the document...

Thus the ideal government is a laissez-faire government. For J.S. Mill the government should serve a larger role in order to promote individualism. Mill junior states that man is a “progressive being” with the goal of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. J.S. Mill argues that the government should protect citizens from the harm of others by legal punishment. In contrast to Mill senior, Mill junior wants the government to play an active role, to allow citizens to pursue their utilitarian goals as long as they don’t harm others on their own aspiring journey. These philosophies arguably promote liberalism because it seemingly allows the people to be individualistic.
Some philosophers would argue the contrary, that utilitarianism can actually impede liberalism. A key proponent of this theory is T.H. Green. Green argues that society and those within it must work together to give the people the proper situations to excel individually. He argues that utilitarianism does really free an individual, “the mere enabling a man to do as he likes, is in itself no contribution to true freedom [on the contrary] he is the slave of nature.” This point undermines utilitarianism, and argues that under utilitarianism people are slaves without aid and agreement with society. To further show Greens argument, to be individualistic the people of society must agree that they will not infringe on each other and promote each other, thus ensuring some conditions that allow for liberalism.
Finally though the Mills and Green disagree on how liberalism should go about occurring, they do agree that the people want to prosper. Not all people want or can prosper. All one has to do is step outside and they will see a homeless...

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