Utilitarianism - Fibiger 1 John Stuart Mill's...

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Fibiger 1 John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism In his most memorable essay, Utilitarianism , John Stuart Mill presents and defends the moral theory of utilitarianism. Mill argues that utilitarianism is the ‘natural’ moral system, i.e. that it is innately present in humanity. He defines utility (or happiness) as the standard by which one must make moral judgments and describes the greatest happiness principle – which states that the moral action in any given situation is the one which results in the greatest amount of happiness and the least amount of pain for the greatest amount of people. Utilitarianism has many advantages as well as disadvantages; one such advantage is that it presents an absolute theory of morality to which humankind can look to in order to make virtuous decisions, whereas a disadvantage is that it is completely consequence-based and fails to take into account personal convictions in evaluating moral circumstances. One particularly strong objection to Mill’s variety of morality is that it is impossible to quantify happiness and to define some actions as being of higher ‘quality’ than others (this is an especially effective argument because it casts utilitarianism as being conservative or dedicated to maintaining the status quo in that actions deemed to be of high quality are almost if not completely defined by the upper
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course PHIL 4 taught by Professor Chandler during the Winter '08 term at UCSB.

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Utilitarianism - Fibiger 1 John Stuart Mill's...

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