Philosophy 1 Lecture Day 8
• Doctrine of the necessity of all natural actions appears to threaten the freedom of the
rational will that underlies reality.
• Given human action may be regarded as the product of both desire and inclination as well
as the exercise of the rational will.
• Kant had given happiness a secondary role in his ethics
• He understood happiness in these terms:
1. General wellbeing and contentment
2. The entire satisfaction of ones wants and inclinations
o Happiness doesn’t coincide with moral worth as a morally bad person could be quite
o Agood will may not be conductive to happiness and is at most a condition for being
worthy of happiness.
o In opposition to Kant, moral theorists claimed that happiness is the sole criterion of moral
o Their general view was that right action is action that is conducive to the production of
happiness, both of individuals and the community.
o Utility is the property of tending to promote happiness so utility is the criterion of a right
o Bentham and James Mill identified happiness with pleasure and unhappiness with pain.
o John Stuart Mill presented his own version of the theory that utility determines right
o He begins by claiming that no progress has yet resulted from all the work in philosophy
directed toward finding the nature of good.
o It seemed desirable for the study of morals to follow the inductive method of science
which begins with particular truths.
o On the other hand, it appears that we need some general test of right and wrong in order
to determine what is right and wrong.
1. This is because action is directed toward an end and we should first know what
the end is before pursuing it
o If the method for studying morals is not scientific, it might be intuitive. o The intuitive method searches for principals a priori.
o Ethical theories generated by the a priori method suffer from one of two deficiencies:
1. They give a priori authority to what are really only ordinary ethical precepts.
2. They supply a general principle
o All ethical theory rests on the idea that what motivates people is the effects of actions on
o Mill will attempt to elucidate the greatest happiness principle put forth by Bentham.
o Happiness is the ultimate end of human action and what is good is understood to be so
because of its relation to happiness.
o But it cannot be proved that happiness itself is good.
o The best we can do is to give rational grounds to accept a comprehensive formula which
o All things which are good in themselves
o An account of how all other gods are good as a means to what is good in
o The principle of morality applies to actions, not to persons.
o Actions are right in proportion to their tendency to produce happiness and wrong in their
proportion to their tendency to produce unhappiness.
o Happiness equated with pleasure and the absence of pain.
o The Utility of an action is thus its tendency to produce pleasure and is not at all opposed
o The pleasure relevant to the rightness of human action is the kind of pleasure that is
o There are higher pleasures than those of mere sensation which we share with non-human