Mill's Utilitarianism Essay

1145 words - 5 pages

Mill’s Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is a consequentialist moral theory, meaning the morality of our actions is judged according to the consequences they bring about. According to utilitarianisms, all our actions should promote happiness. For Mill, happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain. In this paper, I will discuss the objection to Utilitarianism that is only fit for a swine, and Mill’s responses to that objection. Those people who reject this moral theory will say utilitarianism does not grant human life enough value compared to that of a pig. Mill gives an effective response and states that humans can and are the only ones that experiences higher pleasures and qualities of life, which make a human's life better than a pig's life.
The main principle of utilitarianism is the greatest happiness principle. It states that, "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure" (Mill, 1863, Ch. 2, p330). In other words, it results with the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people that are involved.
Mill takes on the claim that utilitarianism is fit for a swine. “…life has no higher end than pleasure - no better and nobler object of desire and pursuit... as a doctrine worthy only of swine... (however) Human beings have faculties more elevated than the animal appetites” (Mill, 1863, Ch. 2, p331). This objection identifies the flaws in Mill’s moral theory. It mentions that humans have higher capacities and more special moral values than just pleasure that we must recognize and take into account that utilitarians fail to mention. It is assumed that utilitarianism only values people for pleasure. Without these other higher capacities that utilitarians do not mention, humans are not much different than animals and that humans are not capable of other pleasures except those that pigs possess. The objection finds utilitarianism an unacceptable moral theory without considering all special moral values of humans.
Mill responds that humans are capable of many pleasures that pigs do not have access to, and that the power to experience these that beasts cannot are what makes human life so much better. “… a beast’s pleasures do not satisfy a human being’s conception of happiness…” (Mill, 1863, Ch. 2, p331). For utilitarianisms, happiness is the only desirable end that has intrinsic value, and that all other desires only provide pleasure or is a means to pleasure with just extrinsic value. To compare a human life to that of a pig's would just be degrading to human beings because humans have special moral values that make us different from animals.
Happiness is not the quantities of pleasures, but mainly the quality of pleasure. Mill argues that happiness cannot be judged by a specific standard, but is measured by a variety of...

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