Mill's Utilitarianism

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Utilitarianism, by John Stuart Mill, is an essay written to provide support for the value of utilitarianism as a moral theory, and to respond to misconceptions about it. Mill defines utilitarianism as a theory based on the principle that "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness."1 This is referred to as the “Principle of Utility”. In utilitarianism, you look solely on the consequences of an action when deciding the moral worth of that specific action. You look at all of the possible consequences (intended and unintended) before you decide on what action to go with. This is where some criticism of utilitarianism comes in. Many argue that it is impossible to foresee…show more content…
Little did he know, that same boy would eventually grow up to become a serious criminal. I’m not saying weather the young man’s actions were moral or immoral, but does the fact that the boy grows up to be a criminal make saving his life an immoral action because eventually he brings displeasure to many people? The other principle that utilitarianism is mainly based off of the “Greatest Happiness Principle”2. Mill’s definition of happiness is pleasure and the absence of pain. His argument is that pleasure can differ, not only in quality but in quantity, and that the types of pleasures based in an individuals higher faculties should have significant more influence than basic pleasures. Mill also argues that people's achievement of goals and ends, such as virtuous living, should be counted as part of their happiness. Mill argues that happiness is the complete and basic fundamental of morality, and that people don't desire anything but happiness. He defends this conclusion by showing that all the other objects of people's desires are either methods to provide happiness, or they are included in the definition of happiness. The "Greatest Happiness Principle" that Mill expresses seems to be more reality…show more content…
A pleasure that is considered high quality would mean that you choose this pleasure regardless of if is also accompanied by displeasure. You would also not trade this pleasure for a higher quantity of a lower pleasure. This plays to the fact that according to Mill, a pleasure of higher quality will always outweigh a pleasure of lower quality even if the lower quality comes in a greater quantity3. One problem with utilitarianism we discussed in class is the Equality Problem. This problem is basically that when you focus on total happiness, it does not give us the result we want in regards to the distribution of happiness. If you help a homeless person and a millionaire in the same way, it is going to mean more to the homeless person. Therefore, even when you are distributing the same amount of happiness (in your mind), it means more to someone who is less fortunate than someone who is more well off. So you are not getting the same result from each person even though you believe you are distributing the same amount of happiness and “should” receive the same

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