AA - 9/28 John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher,...

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9/28 John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher, economist, and administrator A prodigy Mill’s Creed “The creed which accepts as the foundation of moral “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” (7) Utilitarianism vs. Egoism In general, utilitarians will feel morally obliged to act in ways that run counter to egoism In principle, however, an egoist could behave in ways that look utilitarian Theistic Digression Adams remarks (“Must God create the best?”) that the Judeo-Christian tradition is not utilitarian He also remarks that if God were a utilitarian, he would be obliged to follow principle P Since Adams that argues that God is not obliged to follow P, he would infer that God is not a utilitarian How does one prove a moral theory? Telescopes, scanning electron microscopes? An allegedly holy book only works if you’re already certain it’s an oracle Perhaps we can ”test” what the theory says against out intuitions about what is right and wrong This might require elucidating those intuitions It might even require giving up some Mill’s problems with Bentham “Such a theory of life excites in many minds…inveterate dislike…to suppose that life has no higher end than pleasure…they designate as utterly mean and groveling, as a doctrine worth only of swine” (7) “It is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognize that some pleasures are more desirable and more valuable than others” (8) Mill’s Solution How well do we tell which are more valuable? “Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure” (8) Mill predicts outcome “Few human creatures would consent to be changed into any of the lower animals for a promise of the fullest allowance of the beast’s pleasure” (9) Socrates and the fool “The two very different ideas of happiness and content” (10) “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied” (10) “Capacity for other nobler feelings is in most natures a very tender plant, easily killed”
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Two main constituents of a satisfied life” tranquility and excitement (13) Too high a standard? Motive versus intention “The great majority of good actions are intended not for the benefit of the world, but that of individuals…those alone the influence of whose actions extends to society in general need concern themselves habitually about so large an object” (19) Motives and morals “He who saves a fellow creature from drowning does what is morally right, whether his motive be duty of the hope of being paid for his trouble, he who betrays the friend who trusts him it guilty of a crime, even if his object is to serve
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AA - 9/28 John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher,...

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