Final Essay- Mill

Final Essay- Mill - Daniel Nechamkin Mill and a Compilation...

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Daniel Nechamkin Mill and a Compilation of Ethical Models John Stuart Mill uses the same philosophical methods to provide thoughts on an array of philosophical topics. The two philosophical arguments that Mill is concerned with are morality and law. Mill uses the Greatest Happiness Principle as the basis in discussing each of these topics. There are many critics who oppose Mill’s views and offer different ways to look at morality. Since he existed before Mill, Aristotle cannot be considered a critic, but he offers a different opinion on happiness than Mill. While I agree with many of Mill’s ideas, I also disagree with some. By comparing and contrasting, and criticizing the ideas of Mill and Aristotle, I can generate my own complete philosophical opinion on happiness and morality. By combining Mill’s macro philosophical view on morality and Aristotle’s micro philosophical view on virtue and applying it to contemporary moral issues, a better overall picture of ethics can be established. The Greatest Happiness Principle lies at the basis of all of Mill’s philosophies. The Greatest Happiness Principle states that the correct action is that which provides the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number of people. “The greatest happiness principle, holds that actions are right as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as the tend to produce the reverse of happiness…pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things desirable as ends.” Using this, we are able to evaluate any action by how many ‘utils,’ or units of utility, it produces. For example, in deciding between taking a bath and taking a shower in Arizona, where water is scarce, the correct action would be taking a shower, because it would use up less water. A bath would unnecessarily harm the people
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of Arizona by using up more water than necessary. The decision of taking a shower provides more utils to the people of Arizona than does the decision of taking a bath. The Greatest Happiness Principle is the only method Mill uses in determining the correct action. However, happiness needs to be defined so that two actions can be compared correctly. Mill says that happiness can be defined by the amount of pleasure an action intends to produce. An unhappy act is that which is intended to produce pain. Mill separates happiness into two subdivisions. He notes that there are higher pleasures and lower pleasures. Lower pleasures are appetitive. Any instinctive pleasures, such as food, sex, or shelter could be considered lower pleasures. Higher pleasures are those produced by thought and knowledge. Mill’s general moral philosophy can be used as a meaningful standard in certain large-scale applications. The Greatest Happiness Principle is correct on a very general scale. It seems like we, as humans, value happiness as the ultimate end. We go to school so that we can get a good job and make money so that we can buy a nicer house than we would have had without an education. With that nicer house, we can have nicer TV’s and
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course PHIL 100w taught by Professor Riker during the Spring '08 term at Vanderbilt.

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Final Essay- Mill - Daniel Nechamkin Mill and a Compilation...

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