The Greatest Happiness Principle Essay

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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.
The principle of utility is based on the greatest amount of
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However, those people with the means are reluctant to sacrifice an excessive amount that they would descend in status (Mill 89). Those who are of lower faculties #, and thus have less enjoyment, are more easily satisfied (Mill 90). Compared to their inferiors, people of higher classes continue to seek happiness and are never truly satisfied. Mill links this continuous search with dignity (Mill 90). Due to the sense of dignity, “someone will not feel envious of those who bear imperfections because he does not understand the benefits of those limitations” # (Mill 91). In explaining this concept, Mill compares a human being dissatisfied to a pig satisfied and Socrates dissatisfied to a fool satisfied. The pig and fool reason that they are well-off, but the human being and Socrates know they are superior because they are further educated (Mill 91).
On the issue of whom seeks the higher # or lower pleasures #, Mill associates the decision with inner will. Mill holds the belief that those who are capable of obtaining higher pleasures, fall to temptation and seek lower pleasures, which expresses their weakness (Mill 91). From inferiority, men select quick yet less valuable rewards. According to Mill, the decision is not made willingly, but due to the incapability of seeking one pleasure and pursing the other. This choice is affected by society’s influence on the
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