Marx and Mills

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John Stuart Mill suggests that a person's ethical decision-making process should be based solely upon the amount of happiness that the person can receive. Although Mill fully justifies himself, his approach lacks certain criteria for which happiness can be considered. Happiness should be judged, not only by pleasure, but by pain as well. This paper will examine Mill's position on happiness, and the reasoning behind it. Showing where there are agreements and where there are disagreements will critique the theory of Utilitarianism. By showing the problems that the theory have will reveal what should make up ethical decision-making. John Stuart Mill supports and explains his reasoning in his book, Utilitarianism. Mill illustrates the guidelines of his theory. Mill defines utilitarianism as the quest for happiness. His main point is that one should guide his or her judgements by what will give pleasure. Mill believes that a person should always seek to gain pleasure and reject pain. Utilitarianism also states that the actions of a person should be based upon the "greatest happiness principle". This principle states that ethical actions command the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. Mill further explores the need for pleasure by noting "a being of higher faculties requires more to make him happy." . He acknowledges that some pleasures are more alluring than others are. He adds to this by making known that when placing value in things to calculate pleasure, not only quantity important but quality as well. Mill's criteria for happiness is easily understood, some statements that he gives are questionable. John Stuart Mill plainly laid out what he believes that the basis for ethical decision-making. First, the pursuit of pleasure is directly related to happiness. This idea can be easily accepted. It is natural for a person to focus his goals on things that will bring him pleasure. It would be absurd if someone's goal in life was to be poor and starving. This being said, it does not mean that people are only happy due wealth but that no one's goals are focused on poverty. Although there are many issues that can be agreeable with Mill, there are problems that exist with his theory of utilitarianism. First, Mill says that all ethical decisions should be based on pleasure. This statement becomes questionable when Mill states that pleasure is the sole requirement for happiness. Pain indirectly effects happiness. Pain is an indirect factor because is not the object of one's happiness, but is an obstacle which one must overcome to gain it. If one is to avoid all pain in his or her life, then how will that person truly know what true pleasure feels like? True pleasure comes only after experiencing pain. If a person always wins a race, does he or she feel true pleasure each time they win or does it turn into a feeling that they come to expect? If there is a person who loses races constantly, will his happiness be greater when he finally wins? The rewards and pleasures of the second person would greatly outweigh the feelings of happiness the first had because he or she knows how it feels to be defeated. The second person knows the pain that is received because of failure so when he when he will recognize the joy and pleasure that comes with winning. Using this same setting, would it be better for the second person to run in races filled with people who are not matched in skill just so he may always win or should he or she race individuals who are equally matched? Although the first would produce pleasure, the second example would yield the greater amount of pleasure due to the understanding that the competition was evenly matched. Both of these examples show that pain can ultimately cause pleasure, and in some cases the presence of pain will increase the feeling of happiness. Another point were there is disagreement is when Mill justifies the pursuit of pleasure by saying "actions are right in proportion as they...
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