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ProfessorScott

Phil181
3/18/15
ShortAssignment5
InJohnStuartMillsshortbook,Utilitarianism,hemakeshiscaseasofwhy
otherphilosophicalideasarenotcorrectandwhyhisversionofUtilitarianismisthefixto
allideas.Utilitarianismisdescribedasrightactionbringsaboutthegreatesthappinessfor
thegreatestnumberofpeople.Knownasthegreatesthappinessprinciple,happinessis
pleasureandtheabsenceofpainanditsactionisintendedwithconsequences.Alongwith
pleasures,therearehigherqualitypleasuresandlowerqualitypleasures.Withhigher
qualitypleasures,theworldmustbeabeneficiaryofsomeonesnobleract.Many
defendershaveproblemswithMillspointinthequoteofutilitarianism,statingthatit
istoughtocalculatethegreatestnumberofhappinessforthemostamountofpeople
becausetherehasntbeenasufficientamountoftime,butMillsgoesontorebuttalthat
mankindhasprogressedanddevelopedwheretherehasbeenenoughtimetodetermine
happinessforthegreatestamountofpeople.

Withhappinesscomesalongwithtranquilityandexcitement.Withmuch
tranquility,manyfindthattheycanbecontentwithverylittlepleasure;withmuch
excitement,manycanreconcilethemselvestoaconsiderablequantityofpain(Mills13).
Millsstatesthatlittlepleasuregoeshandandhandwithtranquilitybecausethereisntas
muchexcitementsotheyallmorecalmandcollectedwiththeirliveswhichisdescribed
ashappiness.Forexampleifahomelesspersonreceivesfoodfrompeoplewalkingby
theywillbeexcitedbutmoretranquilbecausethatistheirlittlepleasurethattheygetbut

ifawealthypersonwithmoneybuysthenewestfashionitem,theywillgetexcitedforit
butthenwontbebecausethenewestfashiontrendwillcomeoutandtheywill
experiencepain.ThedifficultyinMillsargumentisthatthereisnotenoughtimeto
determinethegreatestamountofhappiness.Millssaysthattherehasbeenenoughtime
becausehegoestotalkaboutChristianityandreadingthroughtheoldandnew
testaments.Usingthisanalogy,hepointsoutthatmanypeoplereadandgothroughthe
BibleandtheylookforwaysandrulestofollowfromGodsothattheycanobeyhimand
itwillleadtoarewardinaway.Mankindisafraidoftheconsequencessotheywantto
followmorallysothattheywillberewardedintheend.Fromthebeginningoftime,
peoplehavebeenfollowingthecodesthatGodhasgiventothepeopleandtheytake
theselawsandrulesandteachthemtoothersaroundthemsothatthebasisoflawis
followedbyeveryoneinsociety,whichwillpromotethegreatestamountofhappiness.

TheobjectiontoMillsargumentisthatthereisnotenoughtimetodothegreatest
happinessprincipleandtheutilitarianideatohavethemostamountofhappinessforthe
mostnumberofpeople.Millisstatingthatmankindandhumansareconstantlylearning
andthattheyhaveadaptedandformedideasofwhatbringsthegreatestamountof
happinesstothemostnumberofpeoplebecausehighqualityactionandtheabsenceof
paincanguidemankindtorightactionandtoobeytherulesandregulationsofsocietyto
gainhappiness.Theanswertotheobjectionisthattherehasbeenampletime,namely,
thewholepastdurationofthehumanspecies.Duringallthattimemankindhavebeen
learningbyexperiencethetendenciesofaction(Mills23).Millsstatesthatweare

constantlylearningbythewayweliveandtospreadthegreatestamountofhappiness,
weneedtolearnfromourpastandthehistorythathashappened.Millstalksabout
habituationandthewaymankindhastransformedfromthepast.TakingtheHolocaust
forexample,thegenocideofJewswasdownrightterribleandlookingatit,innoway
shapeorformdiditbenefitsocietyorpromotehappinessforthegreatestnumberof
people.Itonlybenefittedthepeoplethatwereworkingforit.Inorderforhappinessto
trulydoitsduty,everyoneneedstobeonthesamepagewithsimilargoalsandmorals
andthelearnedtendenciesofactionswillbesimilarwithinasociety.

Menandwomenderivetheirhappinessagainfromahigherbeing.Millsstates
thatwehaveinternalandexternalsanctionsthatleadustocommandourconduct.The
arethehopeoffavorandthefearofdispleasurefromourfellowcreaturesorfromthe
ruleroftheuniverse,alongwithwhateverwemayhaveofsympathyoraffectionfor
them,orofloveandaweofhim,incliningustodohiswillindependentlyofselfish
consequences(Mills28).Theexternalfearthatmankindexperiencesalongwiththe
tendencytopleaseahigherbeingisprevalentinsocietybecauserestated;thesenseof
rewardsocietywillreceive.Internally,itissimilar,theinternalsanctionofduty,
whateverourstandardofdutymaybe,isoneandthesame,afeelinginourownmind,
whichinproperlycultivatedmoralnaturerises(28).Internalsanctionsaremore
importanttoMillthanexternalsanctionsbecauseinsidesomeoneistheirmoralsand
beliefsandtogeneratethegreatestamountofhappiness,itstartswithinsomeoneand
thenisspreadtoothers.Inthequote,Millstatesthat,manhadtomeddlewiththe

propertyorlifeofanother,hehadtobeginconsideringforthefirsttimewhethermurder
andtheftareinjurioustohumanhappiness(24).WhatMillisstatingisthatatonetime
someonehadtodetermineifitwouldbebettertokillanddamagepropertytosomeoneto
bettertheirpleasureandhappinessbutwithutilitarianism,killingoffsomeonewould
causemoredamageandwouldbethereversetohappiness.Thepresenceofpainwould
beapparentandthewholeideaofutilitarianismwouldntwork.

RyanJamison
Phil181
3/18/15