John Stewart Mill’s Idea of Utilitarianism – Does It Still Exist Today?

Topics: Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill Pages: 4 (1255 words) Published: October 25, 2012
John Stewart Mill’s Idea of Utilitarianism – Does it Still Exist Today?

J.S Mill is a philosopher from the 1800’s, whose work typically seemed to be on the levels of political philosophy. Growing up, Stewart was hugely influenced by Jeremy Bentham as he was Bentham’s god son. This influence proved itself to be an important one as Stewart, just like his god father, began to focus his work around the idea of utilitarianism. In 1863, Stewart had an article called Utilitarianism published in Frasers Magazine, (Heydt). It was in this article where Stewart was able to stray away from some of his god fathers ideas on utilitarianism he did not agree with, and really revolutionize the ways in which utilitarianism should be used.

The period in which Stewart did his major writings during was the industrial revolution. This is important as it was Stewart’s hope that a utilitarian society would help society, as a whole, escape from the poverty that existed at this time. So what is this utilitarianism that is supposed to be able to help those in poverty? Stewart’s utilitarianism is often summed up by his idea of The Greatest Happiness Principle, (Mill 1861). What this means is that decisions in life, in morality, should be based on what will result in the greatest amount of good, or happiness, for the greatest amount of people. So basically, when making decisions one must not consider their own happiness, but rather how to morally make the decision that will make the most people happy. To put this into other words in the hopes to further explain his point, consequences for ones actions must be thought of rather than the actual motif for doing so. This proves Stewarts idea of utilitarianism to be teleological as it is based on the results of actions, as well as it proves to not be egoistic as individuals happiness is not of concern but rather a collective happiness of all.

Stewart believes that what people strive for in life is happiness and pleasure. He also believes...
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