Mill's Utilitarianism Summary

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The purpose of this paper is to explain what happiness is according to John Stuart Mill in his book Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a component of a bigger theory known as consequentialism, which Mill views though the hedonistic perspective. In this theory, Mill has an understanding of a “ultimate standard of morality," which he believes to have two components: a theory of right action and a theory of value. A theory of right action is the idea that we must cause the best possible consequences; where a theory of value explains which consequences of our actions count as valuable. John Mill believes that the only thing that is intrinsically valuable is pleasure and the absence of pain. He considers this to be equal to happiness and demonstrates …show more content…
He argues against the idea that if pleasure was the only high end in life, then why would we not prefer or choose to be much simpler beings? The objection is that “to suppose that life has… no higher end than pleasure - no better and nobler object of desire and pursuit - they designate as utterly mean and groveling, as a doctrine worthy only of swine” (7). Mill disputes this and claims that no, it is better to be a moderately or dissatisfied human being, than a fully satisfied farm animal. He argues that humans have higher mental states, complex emotions, and motive sentiments; and so, our pleasures are elevated. A moderately happy human is more satisfied than a fully satisfied pig and that “[i]t is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or a pig are of a different opinions, it is because they only know their side of the question” (10). Because of this, Mill believes that moral agents are the best to judge a pleasures quality because we are able to experience both …show more content…
His ideas about this theory are presented in Utilitarianism, which explains what happiness is according to him, why others may reject it, and why it is the only thing that is intrinsically good. I explored his concepts of what utilitarianism is, the “greatest happiness principle,” the motives behind our actions, the levels of pleasure, and how to maximize it to illustrate his idea. Happiness, or utility, is the only thing that is intrinsically valuable to

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