Essays On Mill'S Utilitarianism

Essays On Mill'S Utilitarianism-29
For instance, John Skorupski contributes an excellent article, "Utilitarianism in Mill's Philosophy," which places Mill's utilitarian commitments within the framework of his overall philosophy.

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elaborates Mill's own moral theory, or if it had a different and considerably more modest aim.

I believe that the most fundamental disputes over the interpretation of Mill hang largely on this question.

Alternative approaches take more seriously the inconsistency of so much of Mill's work with the standard consequentialist criterion of rightness as the maximal promotion of the good.

The question then becomes why Mill seems to endorse this consequentialist moral theory in Chapter 2 of importance has been surprisingly overlooked, or at least underplayed, given the ample evidence that it was not anything like the utilitarian "bible" for which Mill evangelized, as Roger Crisp has characterized it., presumably for just the analogous reason.) The answer, I think, is no.

Some scholars take the famous "proportionality" version of the greatest happiness principle (hereafter GHP), given in the second chapter of to be the official statement of Mill's moral theory.

This conventional interpretation of Mill tends to portray him as an orthodox utilitarian who attempts, heroically but in vain, to accommodate the sphere of rights demanded by classical liberalism.

Skorupski's essay provides much-needed philosophical background from other works that Mill himself considered more important than Utilitarianism has always been the most tortuous aspect of that work.

Mill makes several conflicting axiological claims: the official statement of hedonism; the obscure but clearly authentic doctrine of higher pleasures; and the thesis, crucial to his notorious argument for the principle of utility, that happiness can somehow contain such disparate things as virtue and money as essential "parts." Attempts to reconcile these claims almost always end in frustration or obscurity.

If Mill merely intended to set forward a common "creed" on which all the classical Utilitarians could agree -- albeit by equivocation over its exact meaning -- then GHP should not be taken as the official statement of his own theory, but as a deliberately vague statement of the doctrine uniting the diverse Utilitarian movement.

Although this crucial issue is never directly broached in West's volume, its ramifications can be seen throughout the essays.


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