someone might say that surfing was her greatest pleasure). We might call (a)-type pleasures subjective pleasures and (b)-type pleasures objective pleasures. What’s unclear is whether Mill’s higher pleasures are subjective pleasures or objective pleasures. His discussion concerns activities that employ our higher faculties. Mill appears to endorse three distinct conceptions of the good and happiness. 1. Hedonism : Pleasure is the one and only intrinsic good, things are good insofar as they are pleasant, and happiness consists in pleasure. 2. Desire-satisfaction : The one and only intrinsic good is the satisfaction of desire (actual or idealized), things are good insofar as they satisfy desire, and happiness consists in the satisfaction of desire. 3. Perfectionism : The exercise of one’s higher capacities is the one and only intrinsic good, things are good insofar as they exercise higher capacities, and happiness consists in the exercise of higher capacities. As Mill’s Proportionality Doctrine makes clear, he endorses the utilitarian idea that duty or right action is to be defined in terms of the promotion of happiness. One traditional reconstruction of Mill’s proof might look something like this. 1. Utilitarianism is true iff happiness is the one and only thing desirable for its own sake (and not for the sake of something else). 2. The only proof of desirability is desire. 3. Each person desires his own happiness for its own sake (and not for the sake of something else). 4. Hence, happiness, as such, is desired for its own sake (and not for the sake of something else) from the point of view of humanity (= the aggregate of persons). 5. Hence, happiness, as such, is desirable for its own sake (and not for the sake of something else). 6. Happiness is the only thing desired for its own sake (and not for the sake of something else). Other things—such as virtue, health, music, money, and power—can come to be desired for their own sakes, but then they are desired as parts of happiness. 7. Hence, happiness is the only thing desirable for its own sake (and not for the sake of something else). 8. Hence, utilitarianism is true.
Context: John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was an English philosopher and economist. He wrote one of his most famous essays, Utilitarianism, in 1861. Utilitarianism is a moral and legal theory, with origins in classical philosophy, that was famously propagated in the 18th and 19th centuries by Jeremy Bentham. Its general argument is that morality consists in bringing about the best state of affairs, and that the best state of affairs is the state with the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. Utilitarianism continues to be an important theory in modern philosophy. A knowledge of Mill's own personal biography is integral to understanding the context for his essay. Mill was raised by his father, James Mill, to be a strict utilitarian. Jeremy Bentham also aided in Mill's upbringing, and Mill was deeply influenced by Bentham's writings. Mill's childhood was rigid and intellectual, and when, at twenty-one he began to question some of his beliefs, he suffered a nervous breakdown. Mill later struggled with his sense that utilitarianism was too unemotional and that it failed to capture or understand the "higher" pleasures. Thus, Mill's writings should be understood as the product of a struggle to reconcile Utilitarianism
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