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Chapter 1. General Remarks
Chapter 2. What utilitarianism is
Chapter 3. Of the ultimate sanction of the principle of utility
Chapter 4. Of what sort of proof the principle of utility is susceptible
Chapter 5. Of the connexion between justice and utility
While much of his writing can be lengthy and occasionally difficult to understand, I find his written arguments contribute greatly to the development of logical thought. Perhaps my favorite quote from John Stuart Mill is "In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth, we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility. To do as you would be done by, and to love your neighbor as yourself, constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality."
And that ...
"Happiness which forms the utilitarian standard of what is right in conduct, is not the agent's own happiness, but that of all concerned."
This is a great introduction to utilitarianism and use of logic.
This is the free kindle edition and it worked out great for me. It has no table of contents or links, but in this short work I didn't find them necessary. The built in dictionary in the kindle came in handy since Mill used several words that I hadn't seen before. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in philosophy. I'll have to read more of Mill's works.
Most of the book explains and agrees with Bentham's version of utilitarianism that has no place for rights and replaces the concept of good/evil with pleasure/pain, but Mill's version of utilitarianism has an important difference - the claim that some pleasures are of higher quality than others, and if this is so then utilitarianism should strive to enable everybody to enjoy the superior pleasures.
Mill defines utilitarianism as the "Greatest Happiness Principle" that judges "that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness." In this he is following Bentham's definition, but Bentham had devised a "felicific calculus" to determine the amount of pleasure (and hence moral worth) arising from any given action. It depended on things such as the intensity, duration and number of people affected. Bentham did not believe that one pleasure is in any way better than another except in terms of quantity. He wrote, for example, that "Prejudice apart, the game of push-pin is of equal value with the arts and sciences of music and poetry."
Mill disagrees with this relativism, arguing that "some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others." In other words, quality is more important than quantity.Read more ›
The book includes 1) an editor's introduction - which is excellent - 2) an analysis of Utilitarianism 3) the text of the original essay itself - which is actually just 58 pages - and 4) extensive notes. By reading this book from beginning to end, you will gain a good understanding of Utilitarianism - as presented by Mill - in a very brief period of time.
The most difficult part of the book to read is Mill's essay, but even this is accessible, particularly when compared with other philosophical works.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
J.S. Mill's book "Utilitarianism" is a classic exposition and defense of utilitarianism in ethics. Read morePublished 2 months ago by HH
An interesting book with clear implications in today's society. Too many holes to be followed thoroughly but still challenging to one's ethical views.Published 5 months ago by Alex