Flaws in Mill's Proof Essay FEEDBACK

Flaws in Mill's Proof Essay FEEDBACK - What are the flaws...

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Unformatted text preview: What are the flaws in Mill’s proof? In Chapter IV of Utilitarianism, three fundamental claims are made by Mill; that each person’s happiness is desirable to that individual; that the general happiness is desirable; and that happiness is the only thing desirable as an end. The third paragraph of the Chapter is given over to defending the first two claims, that happiness is desirable as an end as is the general happiness, while the rest of the chapter is devoted to defending the third, that happiness is the only thing desirable as an end. Page 1 of 12 18 February 2008 What about your plan? good Sayre McCord says “see it as good” : this is different. But you make a good point anyway. This is good but you should separate the different interpretations of “the general happiness is desirable”. What about the interpretation of the general happiness as pointing to Mill’s hope that individuals would become altruist following the institution of sanction? You could make the connection between this and the claim about egoism clearer. Well, he says that, as you quote it later. You mean to say it is not necessarily every time an enjoyable experience. You could refer to the theory of associationalism here. You do not say what you think of this and you start the next sentence by saying “this third and last claim of Mill’s” which is confusing. You did not discuss that before and do not explain it here. Mill begins by making clear that no proof of utilitarianism is possible, since “questions of ultimate ends do not admit of proof, in the ordinary acceptation of the term” 1 . However, he goes on to say, it is still possible to make a “direct appeal to the faculties which judge of fact – namely, our sense, and our internal consciousness” 2 . That said, let us examine each claim in turn, starting with the first, that happiness is desirable. Mill’s argument for this first claim has come under much criticism; he argues along empiricist lines that “the only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it” 3 . Having repeated the same claim for that of an audible sound, Mill concludes that “the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable is that people do actually desire it….no reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness” 4 . The most common criticism of this paragraph is that Mill has somehow confused himself since he seems to believe that the word 1 1 Utilitarianism, 4.1 2 2 ibid 3 3 Utilitarianism, 4.3 4 4 ibid ‘desirable’ is synonymous with both ‘capable of being desired’ as well as ‘worth desiring’. As Geoffrey Sayre-McCord puts it, if one were to read the paragraph with the first meaning in mind, the analogy with vision and hearing is suitable and supports the principle of evidence, but is “irrelevant to the question of what is actually worth desiring”...
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course PPE PPE taught by Professor None during the Summer '08 term at Oxford University.

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Flaws in Mill's Proof Essay FEEDBACK - What are the flaws...

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