Through the course of this paper the author will try to demonstrate, depicting both sides of the argument, the reasons in which a follower of John Stuart Mill's "Utilitarianism" would disagree with the events taking place in Ursula Le Guin's "The One's Who Walk Away from Omelas."
"The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness" (Mill 55). This is how Mill first presents the idea of Utilitarianism. If it promotes happiness it is right, if it promotes the reverse of happiness, then it is wrong. If one were to simply take this statement, without further reading, and then study Le Guin's "The One's Who Walk Away from Omelas", one would no doubt conclude that a follower of Mill would agree with the choice made by the people of Omelas. They chose to promote happiness for many, rather than choose happiness for one. This seems to be acceptable at first glance, but a further examination will show that this simply is not true.
It would be quite easy for one to read Mill's "Utilitarianism" and decide that Mill would agree with the people of Omelas' decision. For instance, Mill states on page 59 that "the observance of which an existence such as has been described might be, to the greatest extent possible, secured to all mankind; and not to them only, but, so far as the nature of things admits, to the whole sentient creation." Mill is saying here that Utility means to try and give happiness to all people, as many as possible, around the world. He states that the ultimate end would be "an existence exempt as far as possible from pain" (59). It would be simple to assume that Mill would believe the people of Omelas' decision to be perfectly moral. For Mill says that morals are grounded in the fact that pleasure and freedom from pain "are the only things desirable as ends" (Mill 55). The...
Le Guin, Ursula. "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas." In The Twelve Wind 's
Quarters. New York: Haper & Row, 1975
Mill, John Stuart. "Utilitarianism." New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 1998
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