Utilitarianism and other essays summary

He supports this claim by showing that all the other objects of people's desire are either means to happiness, or included in the definition of happiness.

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To illustrate the point made about a priori moral reasoning, Mill takes German philosopher Immanuel Kant as a brief example. Mill claims in essence that we have no reason to believe that utilitarianism would not be privileged to the same external sources of sanction that other theories have been purported to have - namely, divine sanction.

The structure of Mill's argument in responding to this question consists of the place of origin of prescriptivity relative to the moral agent.

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Therefore, if society were to embrace utilitarianism as an ethic, people would naturally internalize these standards as morally binding. His point is that ethical precepts divorced of pragmatic considerations do not translate well into actual ethical practices.

John stuart mill utilitarianism essay

He does believe that moral truths exist and, though he makes a point of appealing to reasoned analysis beyond moral intuition, there is a question as to what difference this distinction makes, given that the object of our analysis is only our basic moral intuitions. While these thoughts could be framed as critiques of Mill, it is probably more useful to see them as understanding with greater precision what Mill is trying to drive at. Mill describes the difficulty posed by the first principles of morality, particularly due to contention as to whether morality exists a priori independent of experience or a posteriori dependent upon empirical evidence. Without delving too much into a defense of Kantian ethics, we should acknowledge that Mill is probably using a straw man whenever he refers to Kant. Analysis Note that this is virtually the only place where God significantly enters Mill's argument. The reason for this is that the objects that take morality - i. He contends that science is done by moving from first principles to general theory, whereas the order of reasoning is reversed in the case of morality. Mill also adds that insofar as the interests of other humans with whom we coexist can constitute external sanction, we have reason to believe the utilitarianism would be sanctioned more than any other moral system. The reader ought to draw a parallel with Mill's conception of moral proof, because the conscience is precisely the arbiter of the standard of proof that Mill has in mind. To illustrate the point made about a priori moral reasoning, Mill takes German philosopher Immanuel Kant as a brief example. Therefore, if society were to embrace utilitarianism as an ethic, people would naturally internalize these standards as morally binding.

The first class of duty origin, with which Mill is less concerned, is external sources. Utilitarianism is a theory of how basic human moral sentiments are translated into moral action; Mill's point in this first section is simply to make that sentiment relation apparent, and to emphasize that analysis of sentiment cannot be divorced from considerations of action.

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Mill begins with a discussion of theories and first principles, drawing an analogy between the sciences and the study of morality. Mill acknowledges that there exists a concern, particularly in discourses of sanction, of whether internal sanction is implanted by the moral status of the external world, or if it is innate.

Utilitarianism and other essays summary

Mill's argument comprises five chapters. The beginning of the treatise is populated by clarifications and Mill's own revisions to utilitarian theory, designed so as to respond to objectors to utilitarianism while also laying a groundwork for Mill's own theory. Table of Contents Summary Utilitarianism, by John Stuart Mill, is an essay written to provide support for the value of utilitarianism as a moral theory, and to respond to misconceptions about it. As with animal considerations discussed in Chapter II, this is probably a relic of Mill's time. The line of argumentation is predicated upon the notion that evidence can be strengthened by the assent of one's intellectual faculties in learning about the evidence. This leads to the question of what would happen if someone were raised outside of society. What Mill has grasped is that society on some level seems necessary to our very existence; as such, it is difficult to even model what sort of person would exist, morally or not, outside its bounds.
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Utilitarianism Chapter III Summary and Analysis