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PHIL111 13/14 WEEK 10.docx

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PHIL 111
Jon Miller

Week 10 November 12, 2013 The Argument for Utilitarianism (I) - This argument matters because it provides the reason why we should accept it to be true - Mill’s official argument is the proof of utility found in Chapter IV of his book - It has been reconstructed as follows 1. Utilitarianism is true if and only if happiness is the one and only thing desirable for its own sake (and not for the sake of something else) 2. The only proof of desirability is desire 3. Each person desires his own happiness for its own sake 4. Hence, happiness, as such, is desired for its own sake from the point of view of humanity (the aggregate of persons) 5. Hence, happiness, as such, is desirable for its own sake 6. Happiness is the only thing desired for its own sake. Other things- such as virtue, healthy, much, money, and power- can come to be desired for their own sakes, but then they are desired as parts of happiness 7. Hence, happiness is the only thing desirable for its own sake 8. Hence, utilitarianism is true The Argument for Utilitarianism (II) - Here is a different way of thinking about Mill’s argument in favour of utilitarianism - His argument has three broad steps 1. It establishes that one’s own happiness is desirable to oneself 2. Then, it establishes that general happiness is desirable 3. Finally, it establishes that happiness and happiness alone is desirable - Take 1 o Why is your own happiness desirable?  If you consult your own desires, you’ll find that happiness is desirable  “No reason can be given why… happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness” (698rc-699lc)  The only way to determine this is by “practised self-consciousness and self-observation, assisted by the observation of others” (700rc-701lc) - Take 2 o Why is general happiness desirable?  Mill connects happiness and rational selection: the more happiness ensuing from an action, the greater reason one has to choose that action  General happiness provides the most of all possible forms of happiness  So, general happiness is the form of happiness that we have the strongest reason to seek - Take 3 o Why is nothing except happiness desirable?  Mill relies on introspection: If we look at our desires, we find them all aimed at happiness  All other goods/things are desired for the happiness they bring. So while they may initially appear to be desirable in themselves, ultimately, they are not desired so much as happiness they bring is desired The Argument for Utilitarianism (III) - Many have found Mill’s actual argument for utilitarianism less than convincing o We won’t consider whether t
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