John Stuart Mill And Moral Utilitarianism

1239 Words 5 Pages
John Stuart Mill is a very important and popular philosopher in the 19th century. He is one of the earliest advocates of Utilitarianism. He defines the theory of utilitarianism in his book, Utilitarianism. It focuses on the general good of individual pleasure. Mill tried to provide evidence for his theory of moral utilitarianism and refutes all the arguments against it in his book. He states that "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness" (Mill). According to his words, utilitarianism as a theory is based on the principle of happiness. He calls this the “greatest happiness principle.” He claims that people usually seek pleasure and reject pain. In other words, …show more content…
He thinks that the existence of pleasure and the loss of pain is happiness. He explains that utilitarianism is not simply to chase what make one person happy, but more for bringing all people’s happiness. He argues that morality is what makes the total amount of happiness increase. Therefore, chasing one’s own happiness by sacrificing crowd’s happiness would not be moral in his theory. Mill tries to support his argument further by claiming that concluding the meaning of life as purely pleasure is “selfish and base.” He believes people’s pleasures are superior to animalistic ones. He thinks that people will never be satisfied if they are not cultivated. Therefore, being happy is a higher skill for human beings than animals. While defending his theory about utilitarianism, Mill distinguishes pleasures into two parts, quality and quantity. The quality part suggests that some pleasures can be more valuable than others. Higher quality pleasures include intellectual mind and moral feeling, while lower quality pleasures are more physical. Mill explains that utilitarianism not only considers the quantity but also takes into account the quality of the happiness when making a moral judgment for a behavior. It is necessary in Mill’s theory when discussing morality in his beliefs. Furthermore, he argues that people who use their higher faculties satisfied their lives less, because of knowing the limitation in the world. He gives an …show more content…
It makes utilitarianism theory look like consequentialist. This causes Mill lacking attention on intentions behind actions. He believes that motivation of actions is insignificant for judging one’s morality. Results are more important and critical in Mill’s theory. And here the issue I have comes, how are people supposed to know what results their every action would cause before they do it? Sometimes the consequence is predictable, but in many situations, people can only know the results after they have done. I disagree with Mill’s idea that motivation plays an insignificant role in judging an action’s morality. Sometimes even an action eventually makes a good result, it is still not moral. For example, a psychopath burns one’s home, causing the government paying more attention on healing psychopath and the one getting a better house as compensation. The result for the action is good; patients get more attention, the one has a better house. However, it is hard to accept the action is moral, even though the consequence is good. Furthermore, Mill has an opinion that everyone has some innate utilitarianism sense which develops people to realize that making happiness is the general morality. He believes an educated society can solve any serious problems, such as poverty and disease, through raising value education of social happiness. He claims this can cause

Related Documents