John Stuart Mill

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“Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. Happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain.” – John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill defines utilitarianism as a theory based on the principle that “actions are right in proportions as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (Sparknotes Editors). There are a few important aspects of this definition. It presents utility, the existence of pleasure and the absence of pain, as both the basis of everything that people desire, as the foundation of morality. This however, does not state that it is moral for people to pursue what makes them personally happy (Sparknotes Editors). The question at hand is what would John Stuart Mill advise the doctor to do? Fulfill the Joes request and assist him with his death or respect the family’s wishes by keeping Joe alive. From my viewpoint, I would say that Mill would tell the doctor to go forth with the family’s wishes because of his statement “is it not moral for people to pursue what makes them personally happy” (Sparknotes Editors) and in this case – it would not be moral to do as the patient wishes because the end result would be that it would only make the patient happy. However, from a utilitarian view point, a physician assisted suicide can appear to be morally justified in all cases. But in this case, it would be only morally justified in the patients’ case because he is the only one who is on board with the idea of physician assisted suicide. The only way this way this would be morally justified in all cases is if not only the patient was on board, but the entire family would have to be as well, by looking at such things like the physician assisted suicide as an elimination of the financial burden due to medical costs. Mill’s Utilitarianism states that in order to be moral, one must make decisions based upon the greatest happiness. In...
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