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Mill S Ethical Theory

By lucykangonga Apr 14, 2015 703 Words
The Idea of Mill's ethical theory is his Greatest Happiness Principle in that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness and they are wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. Happiness is the intended pleasure and the absence of pain. Unhappiness is the pain and the lack of pleasure. Pleasure and freedom from pain are the only desirable things.” Mill's view of happiness is hedonistic, which suggests that the only good thing in a person is pleasure and the absence of pain and the only bad thing in a person, is pain and the absence of pleasure. Mills happiness ethical theory, utilitarianism, gives us confidence to do what will bring more pleasure and less/no pain to ourselves or to others (Collins 1991). According to mill, happiness is the existence of pleasure and the absence of pain. This means that in all pleasurable actions/duties that we do, we do them so that we attain happiness good (Mill 1863). Mill’s theory seeks to equate one's personal search for happiness against the pain that may be caused to others while trying to achieve happiness. Mill believes that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness (F.H. Bradley 1927). Although different persons have the right to search for their own happiness, on the other had, they ought to consider whether the action to seek happiness may cause the reverse of happiness to other people. If the result of the action seeking happiness does not cause unhappiness to others, then it is ought to be right. According to Mill, we ought to do any action/act that makes best use of the sum-total of anybody’s pleasure. Moreover we should do anything that makes the most of our own pleasure, the society agrees with it, and it increases everyone's pleasure (Wilson, Fred 1990). Our aspiration to do the right and acceptable act is based on the action itself. An act could be right even if it is not intrinsically pleasurable. Mill's view on this consequential in that actions are based on consequences thus, the act that results to the highest balance of pleasure against pain in a certain group could be grossly unfair to some people. It is a complex ideology to determine pleasures and pains, and to merge these into a result. Moreover, according to mill things that are equally pleasurable do not have the same intrinsic value (Brink, David 2007). Mill argues this way: an act Z is naturally fine and acceptable if a person desires it for its own sake. People desire act Z for its own sake if it contains pleasure. for that reason act Z is intrinsically good if and only if it contains pleasure. Thus Mill argues that, given that we eventually desire pleasure only, thus at last only pleasure is good (Mill 1863). Opponents to mill’s theory argue that “utilitarianism is a theory creditable to pigs, because it presumes that life has no higher end than pleasure. But according to mill humans can experience higher pleasures than pigs can because humans have pleasures relating to their intelligence and moral feelings. These pleasures are higher principally because they have a better worth of pleasure (Collins S 1991). Mill takes the objection that virtue is desired also for its own sake and thus virtue is part of pleasure in view of the fact that we get pleasure from virtue. Mill states that utilitarianism maintains the virtue is to be desired on its own (Brink, David 2007) Virtue is one of various things which are desired and desirable in and for their own; besides being means, they are part of the result.

References
F.H. Bradley (Ethical Studies, Oxford, 2nd ed., 1927, pp. 119-120) Collins S. Public Moralists, Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Great Britain 1850-1930. Oxford: Clarendon, 1991. Wilson, Fred. Psychological Analysis and the Philosophy of John Stuart Mill. Toronto: Toronto Univ. Press, 1990. Mill J.S, Utilitarianism Parker, Son, and Bourn London available at http://www.archive.org/stream/a592840000milluoft#page/n0/mode/2up retrieved on 10/13/2011 Brink, David. "Mill's Moral and Political Philosophy." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2007.

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