Utilitarianism. Essay

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, 1998, p. 34). Mill describes happiness as pleasure and the absence of pain. He contends that pleasure can vary in quality and quantity, and that pleasures which come from an individual's advanced abilities must be given more priority than immoral pleasures (Mill & Crisp, 1998). Additionally, Mill states that an individual's attainment of aspirations and goals, like living virtuously, must be considered as a piece of their happiness (Scarre, 2002). Mill argues that utilitarianism works with "natural sentiments that originate from all human's social nature" (Scarre, 2002, p. 218). Thus, if society did accept utilitarianism as a moral belief, people would inherently adopt these principles as an ethical obligation, a moral requirement. While Mill supported his moral theory of utilitarianism wholeheartedly, it has been criticized for numerous reasons. Some of Mill's ideals are more valuable and beneficial than others.The basic idea of utilitarianism revolves around the greatest happiness principle, which states that "actions are considered moral when they promote utility, or pleasure with the absence of pain, and immoral when they promote the reverse" (California State University, n.d.). Every person's happiness has equal value. Mill believed that happiness was the only source of goodness, and that above all humans desire happiness. He backs this theory by pointing out that each thing a person may desire, it is because they believe it will lead to happiness (Scarre, 2002). Mill gave a detailed description on the sentimentality of justice, stating that the main purpose of justice and civil liberties is that they necessitate happiness (Yim, 2008).Utilitarianism is a type of consequentialism, meaning whether an act is either morally right or wrong depends solely on its consequences. Utilitarianism is concerned with the consequences or results of an action, rather than motives which drive the action. An act is morally right if it produces the best results out of all possible choices; if not, it is morally wrong. Actions are right when they maximize the good (Yearley, 2010). An action is considered to have a higher quality result when it has the capabilities to create happiness for the masses, or for the majority. Therefore, it would be more moral to carry out an action with a higher quality result than one with a lower quality result. "On the utilitarian view, one ought to maximize the overall good. That is, consider the good of others as well as one's own good" (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,...

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