Mill2 Mill anticipates other objections to Utilitarianism beyond the swine objection.

On 303 he anticipates an objection of a different sort. This objection, rather than thinking Utilitarianism asks too little of us (and gives us room to be moral through pig-like activities) This objection says that Utilitarianism demands too much from us. This is the “too high for humanity” objection. Read top of 303. “The objectors...interest of society.” STOP –That’s the objection. R1 His response: read on: “This is to mistake the very meaning of a standard of morals and confound the rule of action with the motive of it.” Here we witness in Mill’s Utilitarianism a disconnect between the action itself and the motive for the action. As suggested earlier, consequentialist systems focus on the results of actions, and it is by results alone that actions are to be deemed morally right or wrong. Notice half way down the page, Mill states this disconnect between motive and the action in his system very plainly: “He who saves a fellow creature from drowning does what is morally right, whether his motive be duty or the hope of being paid for his trouble; he who betrays the friend that trusts him is guilty of a crime, even if his object be to serve another friend to whom he is under greater obligation.” So, his first response to the “too high for humanity” objection is that it is mistaken in assuming that the principle of utility requires one to act out of a particular motive. R2 His second reply attempts to point out that the too high for humanity objection is mistaken in thinking that whenever one acts they “must fix their eyes to wide a generality as the world, or society at large.” Let’s Read… (303-304) “But to speak only of actions…is all he has to attend to.” After this response, I hope that you might feel a bit of tension (or see a certain imprecision) in the Utilitarian doctrine in that, Earlier he is setting the GHP in an attempt to establish a “social hedonistic consequentialism” (Recall that his third response to the swine objection said, I’m not concerned with personal pleasure, but the overall pleasure of everyone as a whole)

and yet, when now faced with the “too high for humanity” objection he is forced to delimit the range of social implications that one has to be concerned with when acting. What do you think? Is there a problem here, or are we demanding more precision than any theory possibly could afford when raising this objection? Well, though he has more to say in this preliminary section, in the interest of time we now move ahead to his next section. On what sort of proof is the principle of utility susceptible? In this section Mill is going to try to provide some arguments for claims that we find in utilitarianism. Recall that his doctrine asserts that the only thing worth seeking as an end in itself is happiness. Further, recall that he defines happiness as the presence of pleasure and the absence of pain. He now wants to provide some form of argument to establish these claims. Read: “Questions about ends are…one of the criteria of morality.” 308 OK. Let’s stop there for a moment and take a closer look at what he has just argued. Again, the claim in question is the claim that: Happiness is desirable, and the ONLY thing desirable as an end, i.e. the only good to be sought as an end. Go back and look at his “argument” for this. Read: “The only proof…people actually desire it.” So, his argument for the claim in question proceeds thus: 1. If x is desired, then x is desirable. 2. Pleasure is desired 3. Therefore, pleasure is desirable. 4. If X is desirable then x is good. 5. Pleasure is good. Now, how does that argument taste? Does it work? There is an unjustified shift between two senses of a word here. Desirable 1: in one sense can mean: able to be desired. (Premise 1) Desirable 2: in another sense can mean: worthy of desire. (Premise 4)

Now, when we sought an argument for the claim that “pleasure is the only thing desirable and worthy of seeking as an end in itself” which sense of “desirable” were we using? (Clearly we were speaking of “worthy of being desired”) But once the argument shifts the sense of the term, can it any longer succeed in establishing its conclusion? NO. This is called a fallacy of equivocation. Consider some examples: A feather is light. What is light cannot be dark. Therefore, a feather cannot be dark. Water is better than nothing Nothing is better than beer Therefore water is better than beer Now, perhaps Mill’s equivocation has made his argument unsuccessful, but that does not mean that is conclusion is false. It may still be true. So, let’s continue listening to what he has to say. Now, after the above argument, Mill does not think that he has established that happiness is the ONLY thing desired for itself. Thus, as a result of the above argument, he states: “Happiness has made out its title as one of the ends of conduct and, consequently, one of the criteria of morality.” (308) But, he wants to go on to show that it is the ONLY thing worth pursuing as an end, and therefore the sole criterion of morality. Well, he realizes that other moralists will point out other things that people take to be as worthy of seeking as ends. The first, VIRTUE Is virtue sought as an end to itself? Ultimately, he says, yes—BUT though it is not sought as a MEANS to happiness, it IS sought as a part of happiness. So, he thinks he can fit this into his overall scheme. (See middle of 309: “Virtue according to the utilitarian doctrine…part of their happiness.” MONEY: “There is nothing originally more desirable about money than about a heap of glittering pebbles.” Then why do people love money? For itself? Do they roll around in it? NO they like it for its Protean nature, i.e. its ability to become anything they desire.

But, then there are those who like to amass money and not spend it. Mill admits this. But, he points out that they have made the acquisition of money a “principal ingredient” of their conception of happiness. What about power and fame? Same story. They are sought as a part of one’s conception of happiness. The point is, None of these other things (according to Mill) are sought as ends that are DISTINCT from pleasure. The question we now face: Is there anything other than pleasure that is good? Think about this. And read your Nozick. Here is where we are leaving off: “It results from the previous considerations that there is in reality nothing desired except happiness. Whatever is desired otherwise than as a means to some end beyond itself, and ultimately to happiness, is desired as itself a part of happiness, and is not desired for itself until it has become so.” (310) Mill considers this a psychological fact: “We have now, then, an answer to the question, of what sort of proof the principle of utility is susceptible. If the opinion I have now stated is psychologically true—if human nature is so constituted as to desire nothing which isnot either a part of happiness or a means to happiness—we can have no other proof, and we require no other, that these are the only things desirable.” Potential test question…(in progress…) We noted three arguments that Mill gave for the principle of utility. Present and critically discuss all three. (Argument that pleasure is the good, argument that rival things—money virtue power— are not sought as ends distinct from pleasure, and that overall pleasure is the good.)