Mill's Utilitarianism brings an extended concept of Bentham's philosophy and a response to Kant's deontological philosophy. The basic concept of utilitarianism is to act in such a way as to create the most pleasure or the least pain. This is the guideline because, as Mill states, we desire happiness; happiness is maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. However, is utilitarianism viable? There are many arguments for it, but just as many against.
First, utilitarianism allows for the good of all. Mills wrote, "Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness." Because morality is based on the greatest pleasure the more people who benefit from an act, the more moral it is. This prevents a single person from only acting for his own benefit by requiring the consideration of his acts on others. It also allows difficult moral decisions to be made on a governmental level by considering the needs of the many. For example, it is policy in a hostage situation to refuse to give in to the captors. This is morally justified even if it endangers the lives of the hostages because the greater pain lies in encouraging future hostage situations by yielding to the captors. Another positive aspect of utilitarianism is that there is a purpose to the morality. One acts morally because it causes pleasure and happiness, or prevents as much pain as possible. In fact pleasure and freedom from pain are the only ends desirable in and of themselves. This differs from the deontological concept of philosophy, where an act is not good because it causes pleasure, but only when it is done out of duty from universal maxims. This also creates problems of motivation that are avoided by Mill's Utilitarianism. According to Kant, saving a man's life for a reward or other personal gain is immoral because of the motivation, however Mill would find that this act is indeed moral because saving a life, no matter...
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