John Stuart Mill (). JS Mill. Utilitarianism. Source: Archive for the History of Economic Thought created by Rod Hay at McMaster University in Canada. J.S. Mill, Utilitarianism. (). PHIL , UBC. Christina Hendricks. Except parts noted otherwise, this presentation is licensed CC-BY Utilitarianism [John Stuart Mill, George Sher] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This expanded edition of John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism.

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Rights, it must be remembered, always import obligations […]. Wiley-Blackwell Blackwell Great Minds. Find it on Scholar.

In John Stuart Mill, moral duties and rights were at the centre of the argument; they were no longer treated simply in passing, as corollaries of the fundamental idea. In moral philosophy the appeal to intuitions plays a prominent role. We therefore need rules as touchstones that point us to the path of action which tends to promote the greatest general happiness.

The essay first appeared as a series of three articles published in Fraser’s Magazine in ; the articles were collected and reprinted as a single book in Nothing could change their occurrence. Someone with criminal tendencies might not be able to keep himself from acting criminally, because he does not consider the possibility that he will be severely punished if caught.

If one follows this interpretation, then world Y is better than world X because in this world absolute and relative measurements suggest that more humans have fulfilled lives.

All he shows is that the consequences of their universal adoption would be such as no one would choose to incur. Yet they seldom attempt to make out a list of the a priori principles which are to serve as the premises of the science; still more rarely do they make any effort to reduce those various principles to one first principle, or common ground of obligation.

But in granting this, you are supposed to have admitted their right or liberty to turn out their governors, and perhaps to punish them […] ; which far from being the same thing, is by no means universally true, but depends upon an immense number of varying circumstances, and is, perhaps, altogether the knottiest question in practical ethics.

We are morally obliged to follow those social rules and precepts the observance of which promotes happiness in the greatest extent possible. Largely owing to Mill, utilitarianism rapidly became the dominant ethical theory in Anglo-American philosophy.

But other parts are clearly unjustified. As we have seen, it had not done so in Bentham and much less so in James Mill: Mill can be characterized as an act utilitarian in regard to the theory of objective rightness, but as a rule utilitarian in regard to the theory of moral obligation.


Many people take it to be evident that individuals have absolute, inalienable rights; but they doubt that these rights can be grounded in the principle of utility. Actions which add to the sum of happiness in the world but fail to maximize happiness thus can be right, even if to a lesser degree.

It is not a question now of reaching certain goals however altruistic they are, but of maintaining a constant position from which there can be no retreat. All actions that tend to facilitate happiness are right, all actions that tend to be harmful are wrong, but all are not in the same measure. However, this response would oversimplify matters. Nor did Bentham sacrifice anyone, but that was as a result of a calculation, a consequentialist wisdom. But the local best option must not represent the objective global best.

THERE ARE few circumstances among those which make up the present condition of human knowledge, more unlike what might have been expected, or more significant of the backward state in which speculation on the most important subjects still lingers, than the little progress which has been made in the decision of the controversy respecting the criterion of right and wrong.

Online Library of Liberty

Browse Index Authors Keywords. And, if there be a certain point at which the evil begins to increase faster than the good, beyond that point all creation of rights is hostile j.s.kill human welfare.

And justice is the part of morality bound to legality; superior to law but not totally disconnected from it. It seems to say that an act is correct when it corresponds to rules whose preservation increases the htilitarianism of happiness in the world.

Mill considered the idea that truths can be known a prioriindependently of observation and experience, to be a stronghold of conservatism.

But, by increasing the good, it necessarily happens that we increase the evil. All this was entirely consistent with the doctrine j.s.mikl circumstances, or rather, was that doctrine itself, properly understood. A political action that assumes them as the criterion j.s.mll not be based on reasons of opportunity, but on its consistency with what are considered non-negotiable principles, that cannot be discounted, that cannot be compromised to achieve no matter what objective.

Riley, Jonathan,Liberal Utilitarianism. If the circumstances, or my character or my mood or my knowledge and so forth, would have been different, I would have acted differently.

If for a moment we abandon the sphere of legal-political philosophy and go to literature, we shall lose exactness in the expression, but perhaps we shall gain an intuitive clarity that is often more illuminating than philosophy itself in certain areas and very limitedly: The result is trivial then and misses the criticism that act utilitarianism has counter-intuitive implications in particular circumstances.


Mill, John Stuart: Ethics | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

That all this was done to defend some metaphysical rights merely confirmed the evil ways utilitaeianism which rationalist passion led when free from the counterweight of experience and common sense. Understood as a theory about moral obligation, act utilitarianism postulates: Causal necessity means that events are accompanied not only factually without exception by certain effects, but would also be under counter-factual circumstances.

Without j.s.nill variations, the thought that one could have acted differently seems strange to Mill: The priority of the text was to u.s.mill the fundamental thoughts of utilitarianism within influential circles. One can speculate how Mill would answer, but there is not clear textual basis.

The justification of punishment consists in the fact that it serves this justified goal CW 9, It serves the validation of rightness for our moral system and allows — as a meta-rule — the decision of conflicting norms.

Nystrom – – Cognition 3: Given the preconditions and laws, it is necessary that a person acts in a certain way, and a well-informed observer would have predicted precisely this.

With Mill, on the other hand, it is a question of principles, of rights, because that is his method to confront the dangers of democracy. This is what Bentham and Mill call “the principle of utility” or “the greatest-happiness principle. It would be desirable to increase the good as much as possible. But this answers neither the question of measurement nor the question of the comparison of interpersonal utility.

On the present occasion, I shall, without further discussion of the other theories, attempt utilitarianjsm contribute something towards the understanding and appreciation of the Utilitarian or Happiness theory, and towards such proof as it is susceptible of. The medical art is proved to be good by its conducing to health; but how is it possible to prove that health is good?

On the one hand, that all events — and thus also all actions — uilitarianism causes from which they necessarily follow; on the other hand, that humans are free.