The Concept Of Happiness According To John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism

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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…
Pleasure is conceived as quantifiable, and can be measured in both duration and intensity. This means, that when we look at pleasures quantitatively, longer pleasures are better than shorter ones; and more intense pleasures are better than less intense ones. Mill argues that some pleasures are superior to others not because they are longer or more intense (quantitatively better), but because they are qualitatively better. There are higher pleasures (usually associated with intellect) and lower pleasures (usually associated with the body), and according to Mill, pleasures that come from a higher faculty should be considered more valuable than lower ones. An example of this would be that the pleasures of helping others are much more valuable than the pleasures of eating. Pleasures would be considered of a higher quality would be something that someone would choose over a different pleasure, even if that pleasure coexisted with something that caused a slight displeasure. Mill points out that if moral agents were given an equal access to all different kinds of pleasures, there is no doubt that they would choose the pleasures that best suit their higher …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

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