31 January 2008
Dr. Van Kley
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill, author of Utilitarianism, believed the qualitative distinctions of pleasure are uniquely divided between humans and animals. Mill believed that both man and animal are capable of experiencing pleasure, but the ideas of what is pleasurable to each vary in their own accord. In comparing man’s ideas of pleasure to those of animals Mill argues, “Human beings have faculties more elevated than the animal appetites and, when once made conscience of them, do not regard anything as happiness which does not include their gratification” (Mill 8).
Mill believed the superior pleasures of human beings are what separate it from that of beasts. Human beings have reason and moral laws that have been ingrained in our brains from what we think society should want us to do. Animals do not have to cope with any ideas of pleasure that revolve around conducting their lives and making decisions based on what society thinks they must do. They rather act and rely on instincts.
In comparing the superior pleasures to those of beasts Mill felt it was an easy process to determine which of the two pleasures is better.
Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure. (Mill 8)
Mill believes the pleasure that will bring the most personal happiness is the pleasure most preferred.
Mill believes human beings place a high regard on what society believes when weighing decisions.
It is the business of ethics to tell us what our duties, or by what test we may know them; but no system of ethics requires that the sole motive of all we do shall be a feeling of duty; on the contrary, ninety-nine hundredths of all our actions are done from other motives, and rightly so done if the rule of duty does not condemn them. (Mill 18)
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