Utilitarianism Essay

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J.S. Mill was a utilitarian in the ways that he thought about society as a whole. Utilitarianism is the idea that the inherent worth of an action is dependent on how good an idea or action is to society as a whole. Mill was concerned with how morally right or wrong an action may be and believed that this was determined by how much pleasure or pain a certain action produced. In order for an action to be morally good the idea or action that is performed must cause more good than harm. The greatest happiness principal holds that one must always act to produce the greatest collective happiness among all beings within reason. Mill in his book makes a certain distinction between happiness and being content with life. Happiness for Mill is not being concerned with physical pleasures as some may think but with moral pleasure and intellectual pleasure. Driving yourself to learn and become a better person creates more happiness for the greatest amount of people than physical pleasure. If you are educated you can elevate the knowledge of people around you and make their lives happier for knowing more than they had already known. Being a morally just person makes other peoples’ lives much better because it promotes goodness in yourself and others around you. How many other people are affected in a positive way when you feel physical pleasure? This is exactly Mill’s point when he says that there are different kinds of happiness. Mill wants us to focus on the greatest good because that is how a utilitarian thinks; if we are to experience good and happiness in the most utilitarian way it must be a good and happiness that can be spread and shared by many other people not just one. To experience physical happiness is a good thing yes, but for it to be covered under the greatest happiness principal it must be a moral and intellectual good that all people can

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