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Utilitarianism, Liberty & Representative Government Paperback – November 5, 2007
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Bentham had argued that "good" and "evil" were not useful concepts and what mattered was "the greatest happiness of the greatest number". This was to be determined by a "felicific calculus", wherein no one pleasure was to be thought superior to another except by duration, intensity, number of people affected etc. In "Utilitarianism" Mill disagrees with Bentham and argues that quality is more important than quantity. "It is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognize the fact, that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others." Who was to determine this? Those with "higher faculties" - which is the elitism Mill carries forward to the other books. Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if some pleasures are superior to others, thought Mill, then it was proper to encourage all people to strive to achieve the ability to enjoy them. We thus have Mill's revised utilitarianism that stresses we must strive for the advancement of mankind.
Mill was a libertarian who chose not to base his defence of liberty on natural rights but on his revised utilitarianism
"I regard utility as the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions...grounded on the permanent interests of man as a progressive being."
Mill argues that freedom is required for man to be able to explore all the avenues of human development that allow the human race to progress. Total freedom is impossible so what determines the legitimate boundaries of freedom? Mill distinguishes between self-regarding and other-regarding actions.Read more ›