John Stuart Mill: Utilitarianism Review Questions



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John Stuart Mill: Utilitarianism
Review Questions:
1. State and explain the Principle of Utility. Show how I could be used to justify actions that are conventionally viewed as wrong, such as lying and stealing.
“Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and the privation of pleasure.” This is the Principle of Utility. The Principle of Utility says that happiness depends on the pleasure we get.
2. How does Mill reply to the objection that Epicureanism is a doctrine worthy only of swine?
John Mill says that if the source of the human’s pleasure is the same as to the swine, then that is no different to the rule of life is also good for everyone. Comparing a human pleasure to the swine is not acceptable because there is no way a swine’s pleasure can be at level of the pleasure of human’s.
3. How does Mill distinguish between higher and lower pleasures?
John Mill says that compare two different pleasures. Compare he degree of pleasure you get from each. The greater pleasure is the higher one and the other is the lower one.
4. According to Mill, whose happiness must be considered?
According to John Mill, no happiness must be considered.
5. Carefully reconstruct Mill’s proof of the Principle of Utility.
The Principle of Utility says that happiness is depends on the pleasure we get from our actions. That includes the pain we get from our action. When we feel no pleasure, we are not happy.


Discussion Questions:
1. Is happiness nothing more than pleasure and the absence of pain? What do you think?
For me, yes, happiness is nothing more than pleasure but I do not agree with the phrase “and the absence of pain.” There are times when people make sacrifices, sacrifices include pain, but sometime we sacrifice to make other people happy. Sometimes, there is pain in happiness but not at all times.
2. Does Mill convince you that the so-called higher pleasures are better than the lower ones? What about the person of experience who prefers the lower pleasures over the higher ones?
Yes, I am convinced that the higher pleasures are better than the lower ones because the higher the pleasure, the happier the person gets. And base on how I understand the Principle of Utility, the happiness of a person depends on the degree of pleasure he gets. But I am not convinced on the person who prefers the lower pleasures over the higher ones because I don’t get it why a person should choose lower pleasure when he can get higher ones and be happier.
3. Mill says, “In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth, we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility.” Is this true or not?
The golden rule is “To do as you would be done by, and to love you neighbor as yourself.” The ethics of utility says that if it is you own happiness, it is for all that is involved. I think it is true that the golden rule is the complete spirit of the ethics of utility.
4. Many commentators have thought that Mill’s proof of the Principle of Utility is defective. Do you agree? If so, then what mistake or mistakes does he make? Is there any way to reformulate the proof so that it is not defective?
I can’t take sides because I don’t have any knowledge about the issue of the defectiveness on Mill’s proof of the Principle of Utility.

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