Ther Role Of Pleasure Essay

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 happiness is wrong. For utilitarianism the entirety of moral inquiry lies in the possession of happiness. But it is important to realize that to Mill Individual happiness is secondary to the happiness of the society as a whole. Furthermore, he argues that even though the "noble character" of an individual may give him dissatisfaction it is desirable because “there can be no doubt that it makes other people happy” (Mill). Even though nobleness of character may decrease the pleasure for an individual, the aggregate happiness increases from the presence of such character. Accordingly, happiness is not only the promotion of pleasure but also the absence of pain for ‘everyone concerned’.
However, this insistence on happiness being the only legitimate concern of rational human leaves utilitarianism opens to the "swine objection". It is argued that human being should not bow to pleasures as that is the character of the swine. Besides, by the objection, that human life is worthy of more than just the pursuit of physical pleasure. For these objectionists see utilitarianism theory as prescribing the highest standard of life to be comparable to that of swine. According to them Utilitarianism professes that human life has no greater purpose than the fulfillment be base desires. They feel it is a degradation of human values and intelligence to say that we are not capable of nobler pursuits. Additionally, our rationality would not be satisfied if the only goal worth perusing is that of sensory pleasure. The...

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