Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill
Explanation of Mill’s theory of Utility, and a comparison of the theory with those of Kant and Hume.
This paper analyzes John Stuart Mill’s “Utilitarianism”, and illustrates what moral theories Mill shares with both Hume and Kant. In addition, this paper shows how these similarities help to strengthen Mill’s argument.
He argued that the value of any human action is easily calculated by considering how intensely its pleasure is felt, how long that pleasure lasts, how certainly and how quickly it follows upon the performance of the action, and how likely it is to produce collateral benefits and avoid collateral harms. And, since the happiness of the community as a whole is nothing other than the sum of individual human interests, the principle of utility defines the meaning of moral obligation by reference to the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people who are affected by performance of an action. A generation later, John Stuart Mill, one of the most widely regarded and prominent philosophers in history, not only argued in favor of the basic principles of Bentham’s theory, but also offered several significant improvements to its structure, meaning, and application.