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...

Find Another Essay On Mill's Utilitarianism

Mill's Utilitarianism, Sacrifice the innocent for the common good?

1209 words - 5 pages When faced with a moral dilemma, utilitarianism identifies theappropriate considerations, but offers no realistic way to gather thenecessary information to make the required calculations. This lack ofinformation is a problem both in evaluating the welfare issues and inevaluating the consequentialist issues which utilitarianism requires beweighed when making moral decisions. Utilitarianism attempts to solveboth of these difficulties by appealing

Utilitarianism, Principles of Mill's utilitarianism with application to "Crime and Punishment" well-organized and good grip on Mill's theory

1672 words - 7 pages "One death, and a thousand lives in exchange--it's simple arithmetic."-RaskolnikovRaskolnikov's mathematical evaluation of the moral dilemma presented to him in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment exemplifies the empirical view of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism attempts to distinguish between right and wrong by measuring a decision based on its calculated worth. Raskolnikov appears to employ the fundamentals of utilitarianism by pitting the

Utilitarianism is usually connected with the specific doctrines of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill

1665 words - 7 pages Utilitarianism is usually connected with the specific doctrines of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, who both took the goodness of consequences to be measured by their effect on the happiness of human beings. Bentham was both the founder of utilitarianism and a contemporary of Mill's father, who ensured that his son received a strict utilitarian education based upon Bentham's theories . It is not surprising, then, that aspects of Mill's views


1459 words - 6 pages provides at least six examples to demonstrate the viewpoint; however in regards to restricted utilitarianism, Smart only uses two examples (rule "R", and Mill's nautical almanac).Smart raises a valid criticism when he says that restricted utilitarianism collapses into extreme utilitarianism:"If 'act optimically' is itself one of our rules then there will always be a conflict of rules whenever to keep a rule is not itself optimific. If this is so

The Moral Philosophy of John Stuart Mill

1124 words - 4 pages At the very heart of John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism is a concern which can be traced back to the Biblical parable of the house built on sand - an improper foundation. With this in mind, Mill audaciously sets out to develop a "foundational program" of morality, one that incorporates a principle that can be the basis for all other moral thinking. To find this foundational principle, the naturalistic Mill examines the common, fundamental beliefs


1513 words - 6 pages Utilitarianism: J. S. Mills Moral TheoryHeather BradleyGrand Canyon University: PHI - 305May 18, 2014UTILITARIANISM 10Utilitarianism: J. S. Mill's Moral TheoryJohn Stewart Mill was a supporter of utilitarianism as a moral theory. Mill describes utilitarianism as a concept constructed on the theory that "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness" (Mill & Crisp

The Legality of Marijuana

1707 words - 7 pages that benefits most of the people and the worst is the action that causes misery to most people. The end goal for utilitarianism is pleasure for all humans. Because of this, Mill's Utilitarianism is commonly referred to as the 'greatest happiness' principle. Hence, in the world of marijuana legalization, a utilitarian would assert that whichever possibility reaches the greatest happiness to all humans are the right action to and the right choice to

Utilitarianism: founding fathers, strengths and weaknesses of act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism, other forms of utilitarianism, and recent philosophers

1528 words - 6 pages carried on his work and became well know for his development of the Utilitarianism theory. In Utilitarianism, Mill's famous short work, he argued that cultural, intellectual, and spiritual pleasures hold a higher value than physical pleasures. He believed that the cultural, intellectual, and spiritual values held more value in the eyes of someone who had experienced both the physical pleasures as well as the cultural, intellectual, and spiritual

The Differences in John Stuart Mills and Jeremy Bentham's Versions of Utilitarianism

2653 words - 11 pages The Differences in John Stuart Mills and Jeremy Bentham's Versions of Utilitarianism In what ways did John Stuart Mill's version of utilitarianism differ from that of Jeremy Bentham? Which do you consider preferable? The Cambridge International Dictionary of English defines utilitarianism as "the system of thought which states that the best action or decision in a particular situation is the one which most benefits the most people

Ther role of Pleasure

652 words - 3 pages In utilitarianism, the word utility is used in a very formal sense and not in the dry vernacular of everyday language. At first glance it would seem that unity and pleasure cannot coexist in Mill's world. But Mill argues that attainment of pleasure is the very center of utilitarianism. According to his Greatest Happiness Principle, any action that promotes happiness and prevents pain is right and any action that produces the reverse of

explain the main forms of utilitarianism

989 words - 4 pages pleasure is better than one causes the same amount of pleasure mixed with a little pain. Finally, the extent of the pleasure (how universal). The more people who enjoy the pleasure, the better.John Stuart Mill's theory is also considered a classical form of utilitarianism. Similar to Bentham, Mill was also a hedonist. However, in this theory he emphasised happiness as the greatest importance rather than pleasure. His theory is also qualitative rather

Similar Essays

Mill's Utilitarianism Essay

1336 words - 6 pages Jeremy Bentham is often referred as the pioneer of the utilitarianism because he came up with the theory for the first time, and Stuart Mill is regarded as the father of utilitarianism because he materialized the theory of utilitarianism and established the greatest happiness principle. While Bentham’s utility had a quantitative and reductionistic approach, which describes that being hedonistic is always good and being in pain is always evil

A Brief Analysis Of John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism

1019 words - 4 pages This work has probably received more analysis than any other work on utilitarianism available. However, I seek to do here what many others have been unable to accomplish so far. I hope to, in five paragraphs, cover each of the chapters of Utilitarianism in enough depth to allow any reader to decide whether or not they subscribe to Mill's doctrine, and if so, which part or parts they subscribe to. I do this with the realization that much of

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

Jeremy Bentham And John Mill's Classical Utilitarianism

1398 words - 6 pages In this essay I will analyse Jeremy Bentham and John Mill’s Classical Utilitarianism theory. I will present the objection that the expected impartiality of a moral agent is impractical and therefore seriously undermines the theory itself. This essay will focus on this opposition in order to determine whether or not such a theory can be salvaged through a possible modification. Classical Utilitarianism is an ethical theory which promotes the