Utilitarianism And Happiness

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(Mill 2017,p11) attempts to reply to misconceptions about utilitarianism, and thereby delineate the theory. (Mill 2017, p12) observes that many people misunderstand utilitarianism by interpreting utility as in opposition to pleasure. In reality, a utility is defined as pleasure itself, and the absence of pain. Thus another name for utility is the Greatest Happiness Principle. This principle holds that "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure." Pleasure and the absence of pain are, by this account, the only things desirable as ends in themselves, the only things inherently "good." Thus, any other circumstance, event, or experience is desirable only insofar as it is a source for such pleasure; actions are good when they lead to a higher level of general happiness, and bad when they decrease that level.
The next criticism (Mill 2017,p13) takes on is the claim that it is base and demeaning to reduce the meaning of life to pleasure. To this (Mill 2017,p14) replies that human pleasures are many superior animalistic ones: once people are made aware of their higher faculties, they will never be happy to leave them uncultivated; thus happiness is a sign that we are exercising our higher faculties. It is true that some pleasures may be "base"; however, this does not mean that all of them

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