Utilitarianism, By John Stuart Mill

1599 WordsJan 21, 20157 Pages
Utilitarianism is a doctrine in normative ethics that is outlined and defended by many philosophers, including the English philosopher John Stuart Mill as a standard to determine what are right and wrong actions. At its most basic claim, the right course of action one must take should be in the interest of maximizing what is known as utility. The right course of action is determined as being right if it maximizes the total benefit and happiness gained, while at the same time reducing the greatest amount of pain for the greatest number of people. To put it simply, utilitarianism merits the greatest good for the greatest number. In Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill details his explanation and support of the theory, and provides common criticisms of the theory that he refutes throughout the piece. A couple of these critiques include claims that the concept of utility is opposed to the concept of pleasure, and that it “renders men cold and unsympathizing” (p. 20). With conviction, Mill is able to successfully vindicate and define utilitarianism from critiques, although he could go beyond defining by providing examples and illustrations of utilitarianism in the way that critiques perceive it to be in order to demonstrate faults and holes that would arise. The principle of utility is a concept that was primarily introduced academically by philosopher Jeremy Bentham and later confounded upon to become what is known as the “Greatest Happiness Principle.” Bentham focuses on the
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