An Examination of Utilitarianism Term Paper by Nicky

An Examination of Utilitarianism
An exploratory analysis of the philosphical concept of utilitarianism as defined by John Stuart Mill.
# 144769 | 1,642 words | 1 source | MLA | 2010 | US

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This paper focuses on the concept of utilitarianism, or the idea that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its utility in providing happiness or pleasure. The paper discusses John Stuart Mill's contributions to the philosophy, and cautions that his ideas could be perverted if they are taken out of context. By way of comparison, the paper notes that quotations from the Holy Bible are often taken out of context to justify modern day homophobia, or even slavery. Hence, the paper cautions that a close examination of utilitarianism is preferable to broad generalizations or passages lifted out of context. The paper concludes that if Mill's entire thesis is that happiness is the goal for all individuals, who then is to say that a simpleton homeless man eating three square meals a day in a shelter and sleeping in a warm bed is not the happiest person in the city, or even the world?

What is the nature of ethical action, according to Mill?
Rebuttal to Mill's assertions in the previous paragraph
Mill states that the person of "higher faculties" needs more to make him happy and is "capable probably of more acute suffering
Mill expands his explanation that the limits of happiness are based on the level (high or low) of one's faculties with the pig vs. human equation
Rebuttal to Mill's assertions in the previous paragraph
Work Cited

From the Paper:

''What is the nature of ethical action, according to Mill? Mill put forward the notion that actions are correct in direct correlation to the possibility that those actions ''tend to promote happiness'' (Mill, Chapter 2, p. 407). He believed that the rightness or wrongness of a person's action is not solely dependant upon the motive - but rather on the intention. Intention: when an individual has an aim towards accomplishing something that will promote a general sense of happiness; he visualizes the potential outcome of that action, and he [''she'' could be substituted here] then has clear intentions and is committed to going forward with an ethical act. Motive: this is less than intention; motive is merely a sensation, a feeling and a sense that a certain action may be correct. The individual contemplates the outcome but is not ethically motivated to arrive there. And so, it is an ethical act under Mill's theory if the individual's act intends to further aggregate happiness for the greater society, and is not just based on a motive.''

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Mill, John Stuart. The Utilitarians: An Introduction To The Principles Of Morals and Legislation - Jeremy Bentham - Utilitarianism and On Liberty - John Stuart Mill. York: Doubleday & Company, Inc, 1823.

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