An Introduction to Mill's Utilitarian Ethics by Henry R. West

By Henry R. West

John Stuart Mill was once the best British thinker of the 19th century and his recognized essay Utilitarianism is the main influential assertion of this philosophical strategy. Henry West's creation to utilitarianism serves as either a remark to, and interpretation of, the textual content.

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Extra info for An Introduction to Mill's Utilitarian Ethics

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T]hey seldom attempt to make out a list of the a priori principles which are to serve as the premises of the science; still more rarely do they make any effort to reduce those various principles to one first principle, or common ground of obligation” (206 [I, 3]). It is the tacit influence of the utilitarian standard, Mill says, that accounts for “whatever steadiness or consistency these moral beliefs have attained,” and whenever they deem it necessary to argue for their doctrines, they find that “utilitarian arguments are indispensable” (207 [I, 4]).

Mill did an abbreviated translation of that section of the Protagoras. He had Socrates conclude: “Then pleasure is the same thing with good, and pain with evil: and if a pleasure is bad, it is because it prevents a greater pleasure, or causes a pain which exceeds the pleasure: if a pain is good, it is because it prevents a greater pain, or leads to a greater pleasure. ” John Stuart Mill, “The Protagoras,” 58. ” (207 [I, 4]) Before going into a deeper discussion of Mill’s criticism of alternatives, we should notice some assumptions that Mill makes in his general objections to the a priori school.

Letter to Edward Herford, January 22, 1850, Later Letters of John Stuart Mill 1849–1873, 45. ”36 Thus Mill sees the appeal to Nature, natural law, or natural rights as a hindrance to moral and social progress. I turn now to Mill’s criticism of the intuitive or a priori school of moral doctrine, which he considered his chief opponent. 37 Mill says that the theory of a moral sense, as the ground of morality, may be understood to involve answers to both questions, to account for what our feelings are, and to provide the standard or test for what our conduct should be.

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