Morality and Greatest Happiness Principle Essay

Submitted By mcquadme
Words: 520
Pages: 3

Maria McQuade 10/3/10
Moral Philosophy Utilitarianism According to John Stuart Mill, the consequences of moral choices are both internal and external. In other words, when making a moral decision one must consider two results, how other people will feel about our action and how we as individuals feel about our action. It is his argument that states the greatest motivator of the two is the internal sanction of morality. The internal sanction deals with a person’s individual conscience or sense of duty. What makes an action morally wrong or right is if a person has negative feelings towards their action versus if a person has positive feelings towards their action. These feelings however are subjective to our customs, culture and the general consensus on morality. Mill argues that people have a general inclination towards social unity, and the greatest happiness principle is an extension of those feelings. Mill also states that because humans consider themselves “social beings” these feelings of social harmony or a desire to exist peacefully with each other comes naturally to people. Therefore, the ultimate sanction of utilitarianism is a feeling of obligation towards others, or for humanity to come to the understanding that “the interests of all are to be regarded equally”. It is his theory that if one were to nurture these feelings of equality and harmony with others, the foundations of morality would eventually evolve to support utilitarianism or the greatest happiness principle.
It is Mill’s argument that education and laws should attempt to build on these feelings of unity and promote the happiness of others above the selfish interests of individuals. If laws and societal norms were to promote general happiness then humans would view the utilitarian philosophy as fact rather then as a subjective truth, and if everyone were to view the greatest happiness principle as an obligation then utilitarianism in itself would become a binding force. The external sanctions, though less motivating then internal sanctions, are subjective to the…