Explain the Strengths of Mill's Utilitarianinsm

Topics: Utilitarianism, Pleasure, Ethics Pages: 2 (672 words) Published: December 6, 2011
Explain the main strengths of Mill’s Utilitarianism. (25)

Mill argues that the pleasures of the mind should take precedence over physical pleasure and that once basic human requirements are fulfilled the primary moral concerns should be for higher order goods. Mill rejected Bentham’s Hedonic calculus because he believed that other values were needed to be taken into consideration when measuring people’s happiness like freedom and emotions. Seeing as Mill succeeded Bentham as a famous utilitarian, he obviously looked at the flaws of Bentham’s utility and tried to improve it. Bentham believed that you should lead your life by bringing the least amount of pain to the least amount of people. This brings up the suggestion that Bentham therefore believes that in order to bring pleasure to the majority, the happiness of the minority isn’t important so can be discarded. This then brings up the question of equality, and is one person’s happiness more important than another’s? When Mill was faced with this question he deduced that the health and well being of an individual is very important and that when individuals are free to do as they please, they reach ends and the greatest number of people are happy. If he agreed with Bentham then ideas such as slavery would still be allowed as it discards the happiness of the minority (slaves) to reach the happiness of the majority. Fortunately, Mill saw this major flaw and addressed it.

Also, a major disagreement that erupted within utilitarianism is this: Do all pleasures count as the same, or is there a hierarchy or ranking order of pleasures with certain refined and distinctly human pleasures counting as much higher than other, lower, pleasures? Bentham held that all pleasures are the same. It is still necessary to weigh pleasures, to multiply them by different numbers as you try to calculate the consequences of your action, but the criteria for the weighing of pleasures are subjectively felt intensity, duration,...
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