In chapters two and three of Mill’s Utilitarianism writings he chose to discuss Utilitarianism’s meaning and principles of Utility. As for the definitions of utilitarianism, Mill described it as, “The Greatest Happiness Principle” (Mill 10). Furthermore, utilitarianism seeks to promote the most happiness for the greater good (Mill 10). In accordance to that, actions are considered good actions if they promote happiness (Mill 10). As Mill describes the definition of Utilitarianism, he also discusses the definition of happiness. Mill describes happiness as, “Intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure” (Mill 10). In other words, Mill believes that if someone is performing an
John Mill, a firm believer in Utilitarianism, argues that our pleasures and happiness can differ in quality and quantity and states that each pleasure is rooted in one’s higher faculties, and that our goals and achievements should be counted as our happiness instead of short lived materialistic pleasures. This concept is the second most common criticism of utilitarianism because there is no way to measure or calculate pleasure level or happiness. Happiness is personal to each and every person, therefore it is more complex than what is reflected in Utilitarianism. Critics believe that Utilitarianism does not provide adequate protection for individuals because they act out of what they believe is best for the community even though not everything and everyone can be measured by the same standard, especially when it comes to someone’s happiness. Many critics have pointed out this flaw in Utilitarianism and question their concept of moral codes and how one option that is optimal for one may not be optimal for another. However, Utilitarians biggest downfall is the fact that we are unable to predict the future, therefore we cannot know with certainty which outcome or event will bring the most prosperity to society. How do we know which action will yield maximum happiness? Another limitation of Utilitarianism is their disregard of ethics and morals. “Utilitarianism has recently been accused both of blindness to the possibility of moral
Mill writes of utilitarianism in the eponymous work Utilitarianism. According to his work utilitarianism is a means of deciding the moral value of actions. Mill’s theory takes a consequentialist view of actions, saying that the moral worth of an action is decided by the outcome, or consequence. This decision of moral worth is determined by whether the outcome maximizes happiness and minimizes the reverse of happiness. Mill writes that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” Happiness is defined as pleasure and the absence of pain according to Mill, and the action must be considered for the outcome it brings to the most people. This happiness, or pleasure and lack of pain,
According to Mill’s arguments and views on happiness, it is convincing that happiness is good: that each individual’s happiness is a beneficial thing to them. As well as, the proof of happiness is when people actually desire it and feel like they have never desired anything else (44). Mill defines happiness as intended pleasure and freedom from pain. Utilitarianism and happiness are linked to each other because the morality of a human action should do the right thing that is useful or beneficial to the society, which happiness is involved. For example, a person sees an elderly struggling carrying the grocery bags, and then the person comes over and helps. The outcome makes both of the people feel happy and it constitutes the society a better place. When people want to break away from unhappy people will take other people’s happiness away to make them happy.
Utilitarianism can be generally defined as a way of thinking where one chooses an action based on the amount of happiness that it would produce. In the book Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues, by Barbara MacKinnon and Andrew Fiala, the authors state “Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism,” and that “John Stuart Mill explained it as ‘actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.’” (MacKinnon 95). This means that utilitarianism focuses on result of an action based on happiness and that decisions can be taken made by looking at possible outcomes of that decision. What Mill stated would be defined as “ the principle of utility or the greatest happiness principle.”( MacKinnon, 95). This principle is one in which could be
Utilitarianism defined, is the contention that a man should judge everything based on the ability to promote the greatest individual happiness. In other words Utilitarianism states that good is what brings the most happiness to the most people. John Stuart Mill based his utilitarian principle on the decisions that we make. He says the decisions should always benefit the most people as much as possible no matter what the consequences might be. Mill says that we should weigh the outcomes and make our decisions based on the outcome that benefits the majority of the people. This leads to him stating that pleasure is the only desirable consequence of our decision or actions. Mill believes that human
For utilitarian philosophers, happiness is the supreme value of life. John Stuart 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. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and privation of pleasure” (Mill, Utilitarianism). This meaning that utilitarianism is determined by the calculation of happiness, in which actions are deemed to be good if they tend to produce pleasure, a form of happiness. On the contrary, they are evil if they tend to promote pain. Not only does Mill regard to the end product of happiness in actions, but also considers the motives of such actions. In his argument, Mill defends the idea that happiness as the underlying basis of morality, and that people desire nothing but happiness.
Mill continues by explaining that once this misunderstanding is corrected, those that comprehend utility, or ‘the greatest happiness principle’, appreciate that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (Mill, Chapter 2). By this account, pleasure and the absence of pain are the only things desirable as ends in themselves; the only inherently “good” things. Consequently, all other experiences and situations are merely desirable to the extent that they provide a basis or springboard for such pleasures. However, it is still important to understand that utilitarianism doesn’t simply require people to follow what makes them happy in a personal sense. Instead, in Mill’s theory morality is determined by the greatest happiness principle: a moral act is that
John Stuart Mill and his theory on Utilitarianism defines utility as pleasure with the absence of pain (Mill, p. 6). He equates this with the Greatest Happiness Principal stating, “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, p. 7). When making a moral judgment about an action, utilitarianism thus takes into account not just the quantity, but also the quality of the pleasures resulting from it. Mill talks about the desire for something as part of happiness we all desire things because, in the end, they make us happy.
In his Essay Utilitarianism Mill elaborates on Utilitarianism as a moral theory and responds to misconceptions about it. Utilitarianism, in Mill's words, is the view that »actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.«1 In that way, Utilitarianism offers an answer to the fundamental question Ethics is concerned about: How should one live?' or What is the good or right way to live?'.
Mill also states that an existence with the possibility of happiness must be “…to the greatest extent possible, secured to all mankind; and not to them only, but, so far as the nature of things admits, to the whole sentient creation (234)”. Utilitarianism not only focuses on the attainment of happiness, but the prevention of pain and unhappiness. (230)
John Stuart Mill suggests that a person’s ethical decision-making process should be based solely upon the amount of happiness that the person can receive. Although Mill fully justifies himself, his approach lacks certain criteria for which happiness can be considered. Happiness should be judged, not only by pleasure, but by pain as well. This paper will examine Mill’s position on happiness, and the reasoning behind it. Showing where there are agreements and where there are disagreements will critique the theory of Utilitarianism. By showing the problems that the theory have will reveal what should make up ethical decision-making. John Stuart Mill supports and explains his reasoning in his book, Utilitarianism. Mill
In his essay, Utilitarianism Mill elaborates on Utilitarianism as a moral theory and responds to misconceptions about it. Utilitarianism, in Mill’s words, is the view that »actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.«1 In that way, Utilitarianism offers an answer to the fundamental question Ethics is concerned about: ‘How should one live?’ or ‘What is the good or right way to live?’.
Utilitarianism, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, states that the morality of an action should be judged based on the extent to which it produces happiness, or the opposite of happiness—an action is good as long as the result is happiness, and deemed bad if it results in pain. A clearer understanding of what Utilitarianism is can be gained by John Stuart Mill’s characterization of what it is not. He states, “I believe that the very imperfect notion ordinarily formed of its meaning, is the chief obstacle which impedes its reception; and that could it be cleared, even from only the grosser misconceptions, the question would be greatly simplified, and a large proportion of its difficulties removed” (Mill, 2007, p. 4). In defining Utilitarianism, Mill dispels common misconceptions that are held about Utilitarianism in order to give the reader a clearer understanding of the doctrine and the rationales that support it.
In this paper I will present and critically assess the concept of the principle of utility as given by John Stuart Mill. In the essay “What Utilitarianism Is” #, Mill presents the theory of Utilitarianism, which he summarizes in his “utility” or “greatest happiness principle” # (Mill 89). Mill’s focus is based on an action’s resulting “happiness,” # pleasure and absences of pain, or “unhappiness,” # discomfort and the nonexistence of contentment, rather than the intentions involved (Mill 89). After evaluating Mill’s principle, I will then end this essay by discussing my personal opinion about the doctrine and how I believe it can be altered to better suit real-life situations.