John Stuart Mill Essay
John Stuart Mill
Moral theories try to explain what distinguishes right actions from wrong ones. The theory of utilitarianism tries to do the same by incorporating several aspects that set up a moral standard to help investigate the balance between right and wrong. John Stuart Mill, a British philosopher of the 1800’s defends the utilitarian school of thought by pointing out what it is that makes utilitarianism the standard theory for morality.
According to Utilitarianism as explained by Mill in his essay “In Defense of Utilitarianism” the fundamental principle of morality is the promotion of happiness on a scale that benefits an individual and the ones around him; also to promote pleasure and to prevent pain. Several major objections are raised towards the moral theory of utilitarianism some examples can be the idea that the theory asserts too much emphasis on pursuing pleasure which makes it “a doctrine worthy of swine” (“Defense”). Another objection is that in everyday circumstances it is impossible for humans to make a morally just decision (“Defense”).
An additional counter-argument that struck me the most was the statement that utilitarianism sets standards that are deemed “too high for humanity” (“Defense”). What this objection projects are the predisposed and unwarranted capabilities of the human race. According to this statement humanity is made comparable to other (lower ranking) species that lack the intrinsic values that make us humans human; like thinking faculties that are much superior to other animals or the ability to have languages or develop intricate cultural systems, just to name few.
Therefore, making this objection a weak one and one that displays an inferior and subjacent view towards the principle of morality. Mill on the other hand deduces the true motives of these objections and labels these ideas as being of such nature that promote actions in accordance with one obliging to a certain duty. If that is the case then individuals can be comprised of nothing but a niche in society. He argues that ethics holds the responsibility of outlining our duties, fulfilling them is dependent only on factors that promote the larger well being of a society.
Mill states such objections as “misapprehensions” and transcribes an important point which nonetheless reconstructs and fabricates the idea of utilitarianism; he states “this affirms that the motive has nothing to do with the morality of the action, though much with the worth of the agent. ” (“Defense”).
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 December 2016
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