Mills proof of the claim that intellectual pleasures are better in kind than

Mills proof of the claim that intellectual pleasures

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Mill's ‘proof’ of the claim that intellectual pleasures are better in kind than others, though, is highly suspect. He doesn't attempt a mere appeal to raw intuition. Instead, he argues that those persons who have experienced both view the higher as better than the lower. Who would rather be a happy oyster, living an enormously long life, than a person living a normal life? Or, to use his most famous example — it is better to be Socrates ‘dissatisfied’ than a fool ‘satisfied.’ In this way Mill was able to solve a problem for utilitarianism. Mill also argued that the principle could be proven, using another rather notorious argument: The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible is that people actually see it .... In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable is that people do actually desire it. If the end which the utilitarian doctrine proposes to itself were not, in theory and in practiced, acknowledged to be
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an end, nothing could ever convince any person that it was so. (Mill, U, 81)Mill then continues to argue that people desire happiness — the utilitarian end — and that the general happiness is “a good to the aggregate of all persons.” (81) G. E. Moore (1873–1958) criticized this as fallacious. He argued that it rested on an obvious ambiguity: Mill has made as naïve and artless a use of the naturalistic fallacy as anybody could desire. “Good”, he tells us, means “desirable”, and you can only find out what is desirable by seeking to find out what is actually desired .... The fact is that “desirable” does not mean “able to be desired” as “visible” means “able to be seen.” The desirable means simply what ought to be desired or deserves to be desired; just as the detestable means not what can be but what ought to be detested... (Moore, PE, 66–7) It should be noted, however, that Mill was offering this as an alternative to Bentham's view which had been itself criticized as a ‘swine morality,’ locating the good in pleasure in a kind of indiscriminate way. The distinctions he makes strike many as intuitively plausible ones. Bentham, however, can accommodate many of the same intuitions within his system. This is because he notes that there are a variety of parameters along which we quantitatively measure pleasure — intensity and duration are just two of those. His complete list is the following: intensity, duration, certainty or uncertainty, propinquity or remoteness, fecundity, purity, and extent. Thus, what Mill calls the intellectual pleasures will score more highly than the
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sensual ones along several parameters, and this could give us reason to prefer those pleasures — but it is a quantitative not a qualitative reason, on Bentham's view. When a student decides to study for an exam rather than go to a party, for example, she is making the best decision even though she is sacrificing short term pleasure. That's because studying for the exam, Bentham could argue, scores higher in terms of the long term pleasures doing well in school lead to, as well as the fecundity of the pleasure in leading to yet other pleasures. However, Bentham will
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