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John Stuart Mill Essay

John Stuart Mill was “born in London in 1806, son of James Mill, philosopher, economist and senior official in the East India Company. Mill was educated by his father, with the advice and assistance of Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place. He learned Greek at three, Latin a little later; by the age of 12, he was a competent logician and by 16 a well-trained economist. At 20 he suffered a nervous breakdown that persuaded him that more was needed in life than devotion to the public good and an analytically sharp intellect.

Having grown up a utilitarian, he now turned to Coleridge, Wordsworth and Goethe to cultivate his aesthetic sensibilities (John Stuart Mill, http://www. utilitarianism. com/jsmill. htm). ” To be able to write and answer or give an explanation on how Mill would respond or react to the scenario given let us talk and define “utilitarianism. ” According to Mill, utilitarianism is the “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” and “Though all may have agreed that an action’s consequences for the general happiness were to dictate its rightness or wrongness, the reasons behind the acceptance of that principle and the uses to which the principle was put varied greatly (As cited, Heydt, 2006, http://www. iep. utm. edu/m/milljs. htm#SH2d). ” The definition of Mill’s utilitarianism is about a person’s morality and how he would see or perceive what is wrong and right.

Many philosophers have tried to create a formula or to standardize morality, but in the end it really is about how one sees things. These set of standards are formed and based on a person’s background: culture, values and upbringing. “It is true that similar confusion and uncertainty, and in some cases similar discordance, exist respecting the first principles of all the sciences, not excepting that which is deemed the most certain of them, mathematics; without much impairing, generally indeed without impairing at all, the trustworthiness of the conclusions of those sciences (Mill, 1861, General Remarks).

Utilitarianism is also known as the Greatest Happiness Principle ( Mill, 1863). This promotes and supplies a proportion of happiness, the opposite of this is unhappiness which is the depravation of happiness or pleasure which was stated (Mill, 1863, What utilitarianism is). “Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds 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)

Summary What is right and wrong in the case of Pamela? What could be correct to Mill’s might not be the same for Pamela. The value that comes from one’s culture is always different from one. He would simply say and point out, or ask, “What and where are you happy? ” The point of utilitarianism is about being happy and finding happiness and joy. “Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds 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). It is a matter of choosing what path to go.

Conclusion Although, it is hard to conclude or justify what Mill’s would say. However, I feel that since the absence of pain is happiness and vice versa. I would look to my inner self and ask or reflect what would make me happy. Though Pamela, believes the man would keep his promise, maybe that was how she was brought up and cultured, to believe everything everybody says.

But, I for one will have to think twice. I am in the assumption that Pamela will go on and kill one to save the other four, you could look at that in a heroic angle. But, would she be able to live the rest of her life knowing that she took or sacrificed the life of one man to save the rest of the men? Should she take that path or make that decision, will that give her happiness? For that action, is it the absence or presence of pain?

The reverse of happiness is the presence of pain in which, when you have pain in your heart, conscience and oneself, one cannot be called or categorized as happy. I personally feel that, if I was placed in that situation, I would find ways to sway the man into letting all of us go and resulting to violence is a waste of time. There is six of us and just one of him. Pamela may be a girl but having to five other men to back me up, what are the odds of any of us getting killed if there is only one culprit? Sure, we or one of us would inflict wounds, but nevertheless, we’d all be alive.


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