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utilitarianism and mill

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Ethics Lecture
October 12, 2011
Mill: Utilitarianism Refined
Defines happiness in terms of hedonism [pleasure is good and
pain is bad]
Interested in the overlap between pleasure and desire
[happiness is the only thing desired; what we desire is actually
just pleasure and the absence of pain]
Utility as a first principle: principle on which other claims stand
Utilitarianism is a sub-branch of consequentialism
Mill said that not all pleasures are the same
Pleasure Bentham vs. Mill
Bentham: higher pleasures more intense than the lower
pleasures. For Bentham, if you add up all the lower pleasures,
you’ll eventually even them up. Ex. If a beer is 5 units and
Shakespeare is 20 units, then 4 beers is equal to Shakespeare.
Mill: higher pleasures trump the lower pleasures. You can’t
simply add them up
Mill on Human Nature
Everyone is capable of higher pleasures
They are no innate though: you need education
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