Happiness And Happiness In The Mill's Philosophy: Utilitarianism

1088 Words 5 Pages
Most persuasive: Utilitarianism

Mill’s theory of utilitarianism is based on “greatest happiness principle” that says “actions are

right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse

of happiness” (Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues, Chapter 5). Mill defines happiness as

pleasure and absence of pain. According to Mill, morality is based on the quality and quantity of

pleasure produced by an action. It is not what you do, but how much of pleasure is produced by

your action is what defines the morality. Everyone desires for pleasure and happiness at the end,

happiness is everyone’s goal. Thus, any event or action is desirable only if leads to higher level

of happiness. When taking
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In fact, if everyone were to be

egoists, it will make our ability to live together as a society difficult. On top of that, people in a

society are tied to one another, so sometimes, self-interests may not be fulfilled without giving

consideration to other people’s interests. The textbook clarified the problem for egoism giving an

experimental example of “Prisoner’s dilemma”. So, if people are egoists, they will not be able to

cooperate and will end up with lesser outcome. Also, people who are ethical egoists cannot

maintain their relationships with others. For example, if you have a friend who only spends time

with you after all his needs are met first? Would you like it? Would you not want to have a

relationship where you do things without taking each other’s interests into account? I would want

to develop relationship that would benefit both parties. In short, if a person cares for no one but

himself, I would not consider that person to be moral person. Thus, the egoistic perspective of

morality is least persuasive to me.


MacKinnon, B., & Fiala, A. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues. Retrieved from

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