Utilitarianism (Great Classics #91) (Paperback)

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This is book number 91 in the Great Classics series.

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Here, Mill offers a thorough description and defense of his moral theory, proposing the greatest happiness ("utilitarian") principle as the unique first principle underlying all moral conduct. "The 'greatest happiness principle' holds that actions are right in proportion as they promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness," he argues. Happiness, Mill defines as "pleasure itself, together with exemption from pain." While this definition seems dubious at first, Mill demonstrates it to be very robust in its sweep, inventing novel arguments to distinguish between elevated and base pleasures (to Mill, ignorance is anything but bliss) and cleverly subsuming other ends under the banner of the "ultimate" one that he has proposed. That happiness is indeed the ultimate end he infers empirically.

Eventually, Mill proceeds with a discussion of justice and its connection to utility. Not only does he show the primacy of the utilitarian principle over a justice principle in terms of its scope, but he demonstrates how it is capable of resolving disputes over justice.

The rest of the book is fun, and Mill shows his passion for the subject.

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About the Author


John Stuart Mill, British philosopher, political economist, civil servant and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was an exponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham, although his conception of it was very different from Bentham's. A member of the Liberal Party, he was the first Member of Parliament to call for women's suffrage. John Stuart Mill was born on Rodney Street in the Pentonville area of London, the eldest son of the Scottish philosopher, historian and economist James Mill, and Harriet Burrow. John Stuart was educated by his father, with the advice and assistance of Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place. He was given an extremely rigorous upbringing, and was deliberately shielded from association with children his own age other than his siblings. His father, a follower of Bentham and an adherent of associationism, had as his explicit aim to create a genius intellect that would carry on the cause of utilitarianism and its implementation after he and Bentham had died. Mill believed that "the struggle between Liberty and Authority is the most conspicuous feature in the portions of history." For him, liberty in antiquity was a "contest... between subjects, or some classes of subjects, and the government. He was godfather to the philosopher Bertrand Russell. In his views on religion, Mill was an agnostic. Mill died in 1873 of erysipelas in Avignon, France, where he was buried alongside his wife.


Product Details
ISBN: 9781539973171
ISBN-10: 1539973174
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: November 6th, 2016
Pages: 60
Language: English
Series: Great Classics