Mill’s Utilitarianism

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Prompt

A number of the texts that we have read so far agree that being happy is important for a good human life, and that pleasure plays an important role in our happiness. These insights are also reflected in various ethical theories. A particularly influential ethical theory of this kind is John Stuart Mill’s version of utilitarianism. (Utilitarianism, or, as it is also know, consequentialism, is one of the leading moral theories in contemporary ethics. Mill is one of the founding fathers of utilitarianism; another founding father is Jeremy Bentham, who was mentioned when we talked about The Picture of Dorian Gray, and who greatly influenced Mill.) Mill provides an account of his version of utilitarianism in his widely read book Utilitarianism (1863). This paper is about the first two chapters of Mill’s Utilitarianism in which he presents and defends the basic principle of his utilitarian theory. Your first task in this paper is to carefully state and explain the fundamental principle of Mill’s utilitarianism. Mill provides a (controversial) positive argument for his fundamental principle later on in his book. But he starts out his defense of utilitarianism by rebutting a number of popular objections that have been, or could be, raised against it. (It is also in the course of this discussion of popular objections that we learn more about the particular flavor of Mill’s version of utilitarianism, in contrast to Bentham’s version). Your second task in this paper is to examine two of the objections that Mill considers as well as Mill’s replies to these objections. The first objection that you should discuss is the one that Mill also addresses first under the heading ‘Higher and Lower Pleasures’, namely, the ‘swine/pig’ objection, in response to which he develops his famous theory of higher and lower pleasures. The choice of the second objection to be discussed is up to you. Are Mill’s replies convincing? Can you think of any replies to Mill’s replies?

Paper should be around 5 pages double spaced, size 12 font

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