Utilitarianism, By John Stewart Mill Essay

1357 Words Dec 2nd, 2014 6 Pages
John Stewart Mill wrote a collection of essays that were compiled into one book entitled Utilitarianism. The book shares a title with the name of Mill’s ethical philosophy. The central theme of utilitarianism is to bring the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number, that number including anyone or anything that can feel pleasure and pain. This theme has many facets, which Mill’s expresses in his book, and many applications. There are also those who criticize and have found weaknesses in this philosophy. To understand how the guidelines of utilitarianism would affect the decision made in terms of the Trolley Problem, we must first fully examine Mill’s philosophy.
Mill equates Utility to what he calls the “Greatest Happiness Principle” (8). Mill defines this principle in saying that the more happiness an action causes, the more proportionately “right” an action is (8). Subsequently, the more unhappiness an action causes, the more wrong it is in proportion with the increase (9). Mill defines happiness as pleasure and the absence of pain, and unhappiness as pain and the lack of pleasure (9). In utilitarianism, the only desirable things are pleasure and freedom from pain (10). Mill spends much of his essay presenting arguments and counterarguments against his theory of pleasure equating happiness because many found it to be animalistic, more specifically pig-like, to live only for pleasure (10). Mill rebukes the idea of animalistic pleasure being equal to…

Related Documents