If one of the two is, by those who are competently acquainted with both, placed so far above the other that they prefer it, even though knowing it to be attended with a greater amount of discontent, and would not resign it for any quantity of the other pleasure which their nature is capable of, we are justified in ascribing to the preferred enjoyment a superiority in quality so far outweighing quantity as to render it, in comparison, of small account. There must be some standard by which to determine the goodness or badness, absolute and comparative, of ends or objects of desire. Moore Principia Ethica 71—72, 77—81. The other the sentiment is a desire that punishment may be suffered by those who infringe the rule. In his early teenage years, he studied political economy, logic, and calculus, utilising his spare time to digest treatises on experimental science as an amusement. I do not mean to assert that the promotion of happiness should be itself the end of all actions, or even all rules of action.
If any argument is really wrong or harmful, the public will judge it as wrong or harmful, and then those arguments cannot be sustained and will be excluded. In his philosophical writings and in his service as a Liberal member of Parliament for Westminster from 1865 to 1868, Mill was a vigorous advocate for extending the franchise. Specific experiences, to be sure, write their lessons on our minds—but background conditions, which differ from culture to culture, play an equally important role. The principle of utility is examined in detail in Utilitarianism, during which it is both clarified and defended. But, an association, however close, between two ideas, is not a sufficient ground of belief; it is not evidence that the corresponding facts are united in external nature.
Undoubtedly this sanction has no binding efficacy on those who do not possess the feelings it appeals to; but neither will these persons be more obedient to any other moral principle than to the utilitarian one. In this connection, it is worth noting that Mill can concede not only differential accomplishments of the sexes but differential capacity, in at least one sense. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. To appreciate the significance of his brand of liberalism, it is helpful to focus on the substance of his conception of liberal essentials—the package of individual liberties and state responsibilities that he endorses—and the way he justifies his conception of liberal essentials. This, of course, is a theme that he develops in The Subjection of Women discussed below. Though Mill did support weighted voting, he may have seen this, at least in part, as a necessary concession to succeed in securing his primary objective of near universal suffrage 476. Finally, Chapter Five shows how utilitarianism accounts for justice.
Whatever is desired otherwise than as a means to some end beyond itself, and ultimately to happiness, is desired as itself a part of happiness, and is not desired for itself until it has become so. Yet not only was there a greater strength of sentiment against it, but, in England at least, a less amount either of feeling or of interest in favour of it, than of any other of the customary abuses of force: for its motive was the love of gain, unmixed and undisguised: and those who profited by it were a very small numerical fraction of the country, while the natural feeling of all who were not personally interested in it, was unmitigated abhorrence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Such premises—that, for instance, we can draw a straight line connecting any two single points—are not mere verbal propositions. If this is right, then Mill can claim that possession and use of our deliberative capacities mark us as progressive beings, because they are what mark as moral agents who are responsible. Hedonism is committed to the idea that one pleasure is better than another because it is more pleasurable.
A just and wise legislation would abstain from holding out motives for dissipating rather than saving the earnings of honest exertion. Of this kind are offenses against decency; on which it is unnecessary to dwell, the rather as they are only connected indirectly with our subject, the objection to publicity being equally strong in the case of many actions not in themselves condemnable, nor supposed to be so. But is it good simpliciter or good for the aggregate? It is not, of course, a proof in the traditional sense of being a logical deduction of the principle of utility. Many provisions of the criminal law, such as prohibitions on murder and assault, might be designed both to enforce fundamental moral provisions and to prevent harm to others. In many cases all we could reasonably know is that a given action risks harm. It is no objection against this doctrine to say, that when we feel our sentiment of justice outraged, we are not thinking of society at large, or of any collective interest, but only of the individual case.
In a moment, we will discuss the justification and scope of this exception to the normal prohibition on paternalism. V 25 This sanction theory of rights is an indirect utilitarian one insofar as it implies that whether someone has a right to something depends not on the utility of that claim but on the utility of our responses to violations of that claim. A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury. They are, the hope of favour and the fear of displeasure from our fellow creatures or from the Ruler of the Universe, along with whatever we may have of sympathy or affection for them or of love and awe of Him, inclining us to do His will independently of selfish consequences. One might wonder whether utilitarianism makes greater demands on agents than other moral theories.
The harm principle is more robust if it targets restrictions on basic liberties, rather than liberty per se. Man achieves the Greatest Happiness Principle by not always sacrificing himself for the good of the whole, but by being virtuous on a daily basis, and by acting out of charity, not by gainful employment towards the self and with this fact is found the foundation of political liberalism in its perfect state. Does Mill really treat the harm principle as the sole legitimate basis for restricting the liberties of individuals? You may beat me out in a fair competition for a job. Mill may not have a consistent view about offense. A significant remaining question is whether there is a constraint placed on morality by the logic of that emotion: whether, in other words, there are certain actions which, because of the nature of the emotion of blame, cannot be regarded as morally wrong Jacobson 2008.
Mill was a proponent of , an ethical theory developed by his predecessor. Second, Mill envisions that the harm principle is something that we can apply prospectively to prevent someone from acting in certain ways and causing harm. But Mill is not only concerned with wives and mothers in domestic contexts. If higher pleasures are better than lower pleasures, but not because they involve a greater quantity of pleasure, how can this be squared with hedonism? Men are not, when brought together, converted into another kind of substance with different properties. So far, this conception of a right does not yet introduce any utilitarian considerations. So his defense of expressive liberties is important not only in its own right but also insofar as it lays the foundation of his liberal principles.