Utilitarianism and Pleasure Essay

Submitted By bookslam
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Pages: 3

Utilitarianism is a political-ethical theory that was developed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill and that claims “all actions should be directed toward achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people”[2]. By utility of actions what meant by Mill, is the satisfaction of actions to produce happiness in the society[3]. By happiness, what he meant is intended pleasure or the prevention of pain[4]. Mill also tries to define the essence of real pleasure. Mill’s pleasure conception is not only about bodily pleasures that are based on instincts, appetites. Mill claims that this kind of pleasures is not satisfactory for humans that are above animals because of their capacity of mind. In Mill’s understanding mental pleasures are superior to bodily pleasures. So, Mill claims that being a fool satisfied is not as valuable as being a wise person who is not satisfied. In addition to the importance of the type (quality) of pleasure, what is most important for Mill is the quantity of this pleasure. Mill thinks that little high quality pleasure is more valuable than a lot of low quality pleasure. Moreover, in his view an action should not be called just when it promotes happiness only for a small group of people or a single individual. From a utilitarian approach, actions are expected to produce pleasure, happiness for maximum amount of people if possible for the whole community[5]. So, Mill believes that real justice can only be derived from people’s intellectual maturity and moral level that will help them to realize that the important is to behave according to the benefits of the society instead of self-profit. Mill calls this intellectual and moral maturity as the biggest virtue in the world. “I fully acknowledge that the readiness to make such a sacrifice is the highest virtue which can be found in man” (Mill, pg 147). However, this sacrifice can be accepted as good and as a virtue only if it produces happiness for the society. Otherwise, it is nothing but a waste. “A sacrifice which does not increase, or tend to increase, the sum total of happiness, it considers as wasted” (Mill, pg 148).
John Stuart Mill also makes a clear distinction between high and low pleasure, an aspect that his tutor Jeremy Bentham did not deal with. That is why; we can claim that Mill’s unique