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Utilitarianism Essay Example

Free Utilitarianism Essay Example

The greatest good for the greatest number

Utilitarianism has been describes in different ways. Most of them have been accepted and are used to explain it. According to mills, “Utilitarianism comes from the word utility, or the existence of pleasure, that is- the absence of pain, as both the basis of everything that people desire, and as the foundation of morality.” He further argued that utilitarianism does not simply allow happiness to come to people by any moral standards! Utilitarianism for a layman is the greatest good for the greatest number.

Jeremy B. and John S. Mill argue that this is the theory for morality and economics. However, there are different types of utilitarianism but am going to focus on Mill’s  argument on utility.


Utility is the being important and useful or simply the usefulness of something. Mill defines it as the common good in societal welfare. He argues that one must act in order to produce the greatest happiness for the majority. This was his major contribution to utilitarianism. Two scholars however argue it out differently in the different forms of utility.        According to Mill, the internal pleasures are more superior to physical. On the other hand, unlike Mill-Bentham treats both the internal and physical pleasures as being equal. He justifies himself that happiness is of more value than contentment.

“It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be    Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question.”

He differentiates internal and external happiness from the experts who tend to value one over the other.

Mill says that the external pleasures tend to be liked by armatures (people with low art). He was arguing about this from the perspective of having considered the educated and the uneducated in the society. Considering the legislation part, he commented that if university graduates are allowed to select a leader, they will vote someone who will actually be of more importance to people than when uneducated counterparts are asked to do so. He was not disregarding the unschooled! Mill just gave a simple explanation to explain his arguments.

In utilitarianism, Mill dealt with the major problems related to utilitarianism.

For one to have attitudes of malice, every citizen will have the value of self over another. “Society, therefore, is in no way obligated to indulge him; on the contrary, it is fully permitted to suppress his actions.” Maclene (1993). Mill’s argument on utilitarianism is purely qualitative and not quantitative. The qualitative aspects that Mill accepts on account of happiness is presented in On liberty. He argues that, utility or the usefulness of a being is acquired as one develops till maturity. “The rejection of censorship and paternalism is intended to provide the necessary social conditions for the achievement of knowledge and the greatest ability for the greatest number to develop and exercise their deliberative and rational capacities.” Lyons (1994).

Mill gives different responses toutilitarianism. He says that it is a critique and not unique. Basing morality on the general good beats logic for commonsense situations. But again basin it on  morality of the good, appreciation of the individual fails. This should give the best reason to argue that morality should be a personal issue. He says that we should sacrifice happiness if it will only yield better happiness. Some ambiguity comes out that utilitarianism is the basic and core foundation of  morality!

The meaning of happiness is partially expounded on the basis that utilitarianism can give room for happiness. The fulfillment of the desires depends on motivation for any action. This statement links psychology and philosophy. In psychology it is based upon the descriptive make up upon human beings. The fact that humans behave in a particular manner does not necessarily mean that we should behave that way. We should consider which is the best behavior we can do. In order to be justified, we should look at what many people share or otherwise love most.

Utilitarianism can generally be based upon what other people think on anything in it relation. Or otherwise you can accept the various arguments put forward by various scholars and philosophers or bar with them. This is because utilitarianism is very diverse and broad.