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Utilitarianism: Reprinted from 'Fraser's Magazine' PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Utilitarianism: Reprinted from 'Fraser's Magazine'
Author: John Stuart Mill
Publisher: Published August 13th 2015 by Andesite Press (first published 1861)
ISBN: 9781297864070
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most impor This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

30 review for Utilitarianism: Reprinted from 'Fraser's Magazine'

  1. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "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, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question." - John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism I remember reading bits of Mill's Utilitarianism during a course of political philosophy and public policy when I was in college (my major almost 20 years ago was public policy). I have always been attracted to the b "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, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question." - John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism I remember reading bits of Mill's Utilitarianism during a course of political philosophy and public policy when I was in college (my major almost 20 years ago was public policy). I have always been attracted to the basics of Mill's Utilitarianism and William's Pragmatism. Thus, may I disagree with Ferris Bueller. I do believe in isms. Anyway, I hadn't touched Mill in quite awhile (6 years) and figured it was probably time to dust off some of those foundational Western political philosophers. Who knows, we all may be rebuilding a Republic soon.

  2. 5 out of 5

    لونا

    مراجعة مقتضبة:- يمكن إدراج هذا الكتاب تحت بند فلسفة الأخلاق؛ يتكلم عن "النفعية"، وما النفعية إلا تلك: السعادة كغاية قصوى يسعى لها الجميع لما تحدثه من لذة في نفوس ذائقيها، ويتم طرحها ونقاشها كمبدأ أخلاقي مكتمل هدفه الأقصى_الأسمى المصلحة العامة النفعية = أعظم السعادة = المصلحة العامة لا أرى بأساً لو تمَّ تغيير عنوان الكتاب إلى فلسفة السعادة ***** *** * *** ***** مراجعة ليست بالمقتضبة:- هل تعرفون ما هي العاصفة؟ بالتأكيد تعرفون!؛ هنالك نوعية من الكتب تُحدث عاصفة داخل عقولنا ولو تزامن تصوير الدماغ أثناء مراجعة مقتضبة:- يمكن إدراج هذا الكتاب تحت بند فلسفة الأخلاق؛ يتكلم عن "النفعية"، وما النفعية إلا تلك: السعادة كغاية قصوى يسعى لها الجميع لما تحدثه من لذة في نفوس ذائقيها، ويتم طرحها ونقاشها كمبدأ أخلاقي مكتمل هدفه الأقصى_الأسمى المصلحة العامة النفعية = أعظم السعادة = المصلحة العامة لا أرى بأساً لو تمَّ تغيير عنوان الكتاب إلى فلسفة السعادة ***** *** * *** ***** مراجعة ليست بالمقتضبة:- هل تعرفون ما هي العاصفة؟ بالتأكيد تعرفون!؛ هنالك نوعية من الكتب تُحدث عاصفة داخل عقولنا ولو تزامن تصوير الدماغ أثناء قراءتها للوحظ نشاط شديد داخل الدماغ والدليل على ذلك سيكون اللون الأحمر الطاغي في الصورة المأخوذة كتابات جون ستيوارت ميل من النوع العاصف، وبصراحة محاولة كتابة مراجعة عن ما يكتب أشبه بالورطة أولاً: لصعوبة المهمة، وثانياً: خوفاً من أن تنتج مراجعة تجعل قارئها يعزف عن قراءة الكتاب؛ ولذلك أنصح أن لا يعوَّل على ما جاء في المراجعة لإصدار الحكم عن جودة الكتاب بل اعتبارها تعطي فكرة عن المحتوى ولمن اهتم بالفكرة وهمّ بقراءته أنصحه أن يشحذ العزيمة أثناء القراءة فالكتاب ليس بالسهل أبداً (بالنسبة لي) دسم جداً، كيف لا وهو كتاب فلسفي_فكري عن موضوع أخلاقي بقلم كاتب أقل ما يقال عنه أنه رجل المهمات الصعبة ***** *** * *** ***** ميل منذ الصغر اكتشف فيه والده ذلك الذكاء والنضوج الفكري السابق لأوانه فقرر أن يمنحه تعليم غير تقليدي ( مكثف) والقارئ لطبيعة التعليم المبكر الذي تلقّاه (من عمر الثالثة) من خلال قراءة سيرته من هنا وهناك سيعذره عندما يكتشف أنه أصيب بانهيار عصبي شديد في عمر العشرين لطبيعة الحياة التي عاشها أو التي لم يعشها كطفل طبيعي جيرمي بنثام كان صديق والد ميل وكان له تأثير كبير على ميل من خلال فلسفته وخصوصاً النظرية النفعية التي نذر حياته لها، تأثر ميل كثيراً بالنظرية وتبنّاها ودافع عنها لأنها واجهت نقداً شديداً واتهمت بالمادية وتعديها على الحقوق الفردية أو الأصح الأقلِّية. ميل دافع عن النفعية من خلال هذا الكتاب وأسبغ عليها الطابع الإنساني الذي يقال أنها تفتقده ***** *** * *** ***** نظرية بنثام النفعية أو مبدأ أعظم السعادة تُختصر كالتالي:0 it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong* ماذا عن القلة، وهل السعادة بالضرورة تكون مقترنة بالمنفعة وغياب الألم. واللذة بحد ذاتها التي تمنحها السعادة هل هي تبعاً لهذه النظرية خيّره؟ ولو حاولت وضع مثال من "عالمنا" يوضِّح تلك الاعتراضات ورد ميل عليها سأقول مثلاً: لو تم قياس السعادة (بالعدد) الذي تمنحه قراءة رواية مشهورة × بالمقارنة مع قراءة (مثلاً) أشهر كتب ميل "عن الحرية"، فإن كتاب ميل سيخسر شر خسارة بالقياس العددي للسعادة ..... ميل مهتم بالجودة "الكيف" وليس بالعدد، ولذلك بقياس جودة السعادة بالمقارنة مع الرواية × فكتابه عن الحرية هو الفائز بجدارة. شخصياً أعترف بعد تجربة النوعين فإنني للصراحة سلطنت مع ميل وأعتقد أن من جرَّب النوعين حتى لو فضَّل الرواية فإنه سيعترف بثقة تامة أن قيمة كتابات ميل أقوى وتقدم لذة أكبر من الروايات؛ والتجربة هي ما يتحدى بها ميل منتقديه حيث يقول {لقد أضحى من قبيل الواقع الذي لا يحتمل أية مساءلة أن أولئك الذين تعودوا بالتساوي على طريقتي عيش مختلفتين وكانوا قادرين على التمتع بهما واستحسانهما فإنهم يفضلون بصفة قطعية نمط الحياة الذي يستخدم أرقى ملكاتهم} شخصياً أتفق مع العبارة لأبعد حد ***** *** * *** ***** ميل في هذا الكتاب دافع عن مبدأ أعظم السعادة "النفعية" من خلال خمس فصول، الفصول بالترتيب هي كالتالي: 1-ملاحظات عامة 2-ماهية النفعية 3-العقوبات القصوى لمبدأ النفعية 4-أي نوع من الأدلة يحتمله مبدأ النفعية 5-حول الصلة بين العدل والمنفعة _______________________________ سيتضح للقارئ (بالحكم على الأسلوب الكتابي) أن أغلب القادم هو من الكتاب نفسه، شخصياً اعتبره كملخص لأهم ما وصلني من الكتاب ما قمت به هو استخلاص ما وصلني على شكل اقتباسات من هنا وهناك ربطت بينها وأزلت منها وزدت لها لتخرج بهذا الشكل المكثَّف: يقول ميل أن النفعية قوبلت باستنكار لعدة أسباب منها أنه فسِّرت بمقابلتها بلفظ "لذة" بمعناه الضيق، واعتبرت جافة إذا ما كان لفظ اللذة مسبوق بالمنفعة ومشحونة بالتلذذ إذا ما سبق لفظ اللذة لفظ المنفعة. ولذلك دافع عن النفعية بكون النفعيين رفعوا من شأن اللذات الذهنية، بالمقارنة مع اللذات الجسدية وذلك بالرجوع أساساً إلى ارتفاع ديمومتها وسلامتها وعدم كلفتها بالمقارنة مع اللذات الجسدية، فمن التخلف -على حد قوله- عند تقديرنا للملذات أن يقتصر ذلك على الكم فقط دون الكيف يعترف ميل أن ما يدعو له يحتاج جهد جماعي مستمر ويدافع عن واقع الشباب المنغمس في اللذات الدونية بكونه نتيجة لا مهرب منها فهذا هو المجتمع وهذا هو الواقع؛ فتلك النبتة النبيلة المتمثلة بالأخلاق السامية نبتة رقيقة ومعرضه للفناء تحتاج لعناية فائقة عن طريق تنمية "نبل الطبع العامة". المصلحة العامة تحتاج نوع خاص من الفضيلة أطلق عليه ميل اسم "أخلاق التضحية" التي تتطلب ثقافة فكرية تجعل الفرد يتخلى عن الأنانية بحيث يكون هناك ترابط وثيق بين السعادة الخاصة والخير بالنسبة للجميع في ذهن كل كائن بشري. ويلفت الانتباه بعد ذلك لنقطة مهمة ألا وهي: أن الحالات التي تتطلب تضحية بالقياس العام (المنفعة العامة) تعتبر مناسبات استثنائية جداً بالمقارنة بالمنفعة الخاصة لفته أخرى مهمة ينوِّه عنها لأصحاب التوقعات اللامنطقية ألا وهي: أنه من المستحيل التفكير أن المبدأ النفعي يعني بالسعادة كحالة مستمرة من الإثارة الممتعة للغاية، بل ذلك البريق اللامع والعرضي للتمتع لا ذلك اللهيب الدائم والمستعر ***** *** * *** ***** من أين يستمد أي مبدأ أخلاقي قوته المُلزِمة؟ هنالك عقوبات تُصاحب أي نسق أخلاقي: داخلية وخارجية. الخارجية تأتي من الله أو من البشر؛ أما الداخلية فهي إحساس في أنفسنا بألم متفاوت الحدة يتبع انتهاك الواجب وهو بالنسبة للذين تلقوا التربية الأخلاقية الملائمة يجعلهم يمتنعون عن مخالفة الواجب كما لو كان ذلك من باب المستحيل وهذا الإحساس هو جوهر الضمير الحي والواعي فالمشاعر الأخلاقية مشاعر في رأي ميل مشاعر ليست فطرية بل مكتسبة بدون أن يمنع ذلك من اعتبارها طبيعية (مثلاً من الطبيعي أن يتكلم الإنسان ولكن هذه القدرة بطبعها مكتسبة)، وقوة الأخلاق النفعية إن تم الاعتراف بالسعادة العامة كمبدأ أخلاقي تكمن في تأسيس مشاعر اجتماعية للنوع البشري تتمثل في الرغبة في التلاحم مع أمثالنا وتصور أنفسنا عضو من بدن كامل وأن مصلحة الفرد مرتبطة بالكل، وبدون ذلك فالحياة الاجتماعية لا يمكن تحقيقها بدون التأثير القوي للجزاء الخارجي الذي أساسه مصلحة الآخرين ***** *** * *** ***** هل النفعية تتعارض مع العدل؟ فكرة العدل تفترض أمرين: 1- قاعدة من قواعد السلوك (مشتركة بين الناس) و 2- شعور يجازي القاعدة (تحمل العقاب من طرف المخالفين للقاعدة) الشعور بالعدل يقول ميل هو بالأصل غريزة حيوانية للثأر ورغبة في الانتقام من المنتهكين، فالبشر لا يختلفون عن الحيوانات في هذه النقطة إلا بخاصتين: الأولى قدرتهم على التعاطف والثانية أنهم يتمتعون بذكاء متفوق. فالذكاء المتفوق مضافاً إلى القدرة على التعاطف مع البشر عامة، يؤهله (الفرد) ليربط نفسه بالفكرة الجماعية لقبيلته أو لبلده أو للبشرية على نحو يوقظ فيه أي فعل ضار غريزة التعاطف ويحثه على المقاومة وكأن ميل يقول أن فكرة الإلزام الخارجي (القانوني) والإلزام الداخلي (الضمير الحي) هما جوهر العدل وبالمحصلة فالهدف العام هو المصلحة العامة التي تعود على الجميع بالسعاة وهكذا يثبت ميل في أكثر الفصول "دسامة" أن العدل المبني على المنفعة هو الجزء الأكثر قداسة والأكثر إلزاماً من الأخلاق بأسرها، أي أنه لا تعارض بين العدل والنفعية ___________________ شكراً إشراق لكل هذه المتعة التي كنتِ سبباً بها من غير أن يكون لكِ علم بذلك ... فمن مدة مضت مررت لي مجموعة من المحاضرات التي اعتقدت أنها ستنال إعجابي؛ كانت مصيبة باعتقادها ومن خلال هذه المحاضرات اكتشفت كتاب النفعية، بالتحديد في الحلقة الثانية منها لمن يريد مشاهدة ذلك. للعلم هذه المحاضرات متصلة وكل حلقة معتمدة على التي تسبقها وسيشعر بذلك من يكتفي بمشاهدة الحلقة التي أشرت لها Justice لن أفوِّت الفرصة لأقول أن أكثر المقاطع التي أتفق معها وأجدها قد وضَّحت الكثير عن النفعية هو المقطع الذي يبتدئ عند الدقيقة 44 و14 ثانية، لصحابها المدعو "جو" وأحب أن أشير لأهمية مشاهدة رأيه كاملاً الذي يستمر للدقيقة 46 و41 ثانية. قد أكون أخطأت في التوقيت وللتأكيد فهذه هي صورة جو ***** *** * *** ***** أخيراً اقتبس من الكتاب هذا المقطع: إن الاعتقاد القائل بأن الله يرغب فوق كل اعتبار في سعادة مخلوقاته، هو ما كان غرضه من خلقها، فإن النفعية لن تكون فحسب نظرية دون إله، بل ستكون نظرية دينية في أعماقها وأكثر من أي نظرية أخرى __________________ ملاحظة:- *فضلت أن تبقى العبارة غير معربة لقصور في شخصي وليس بعجز اللغة العربية، فكل محاولاتي لترجمتها لم تنقل المعنى الذي فهمته والإحساس المتولد عنه

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hamidreza Hosseini

    مهم ترین چیزی که با خوندن این کتاب فهمیدم یا در واقع ازش مطمئن تر شدم، اینه که اغلب مطالب آموزشی دوران تحصیل ما، چه در دوران مدرسه و چه در دانشگاه (رشته های فنی حداقل) مشتی اراجیف و دروغ بوده اند. اون جایی که توی کتاب تعلیمات دینی از فلسفه های فایده گرایانه، به عنوان فلسفه هایی فقط به دنبال لذت حیوانی یاد شده بود. نمیگم تمام حرفهای این کتاب و فلسفه ی اخلاق فایده گرا درسته، ولی خیلی کمک میکنه به اینکه بتونی بهتر فکر کنی به مسیری که برای زندگی اخلاقیت در نظر گرفتی. نوشته ی خود استیوارت میل واقعا سخت مهم ترین چیزی که با خوندن این کتاب فهمیدم یا در واقع ازش مطمئن تر شدم، اینه که اغلب مطالب آموزشی دوران تحصیل ما، چه در دوران مدرسه و چه در دانشگاه (رشته های فنی حداقل) مشتی اراجیف و دروغ بوده اند. اون جایی که توی کتاب تعلیمات دینی از فلسفه های فایده گرایانه، به عنوان فلسفه هایی فقط به دنبال لذت حیوانی یاد شده بود. نمیگم تمام حرفهای این کتاب و فلسفه ی اخلاق فایده گرا درسته، ولی خیلی کمک میکنه به اینکه بتونی بهتر فکر کنی به مسیری که برای زندگی اخلاقیت در نظر گرفتی. نوشته ی خود استیوارت میل واقعا سخت بود خوندن و فهمش و باید کلی فکر میکردم تا بفهمم، اگه میتونستم بفهمم البته. توضیحات دکتر مردیها در بعضی قسمتها که خیلی پیچیده میشد قضیه، واقعا خوب و راهگشا بود. موخره ای هم که خود دکتر مردیها نوشته بود خیلی خیلی کمک کرد به تکمیل و فهم بهتر کلیت حرفهای استیوارت میل.

  4. 4 out of 5

    M.

    "nihai amaç [...] acıdan mümkün olduğunca azade ve keyiften mümkün olduğunca zengin bir varoluş, bir yaşamdır." (s. 71) Selin Aktuyun'un başarılı çevirisi Yıldız Silier'in uzun ve kapsamlı önsözü sayesinde hakkında çokça fikir edindiğimiz Mill'in iki büyük başyapıtından birisi olan Faydacılık, üç yaşında Yunan Dili ve Edebiyatı, altı yaşında Latince ve Mantık öğrenen bir dehaya yakışır bir eser. Kısaca faydacılık fikrini özetleyen, bu fikre yönelik eleştirilere cevap veren ve bu fikri en büyük "nihai amaç [...] acıdan mümkün olduğunca azade ve keyiften mümkün olduğunca zengin bir varoluş, bir yaşamdır." (s. 71) Selin Aktuyun'un başarılı çevirisi Yıldız Silier'in uzun ve kapsamlı önsözü sayesinde hakkında çokça fikir edindiğimiz Mill'in iki büyük başyapıtından birisi olan Faydacılık, üç yaşında Yunan Dili ve Edebiyatı, altı yaşında Latince ve Mantık öğrenen bir dehaya yakışır bir eser. Kısaca faydacılık fikrini özetleyen, bu fikre yönelik eleştirilere cevap veren ve bu fikri en büyük zaafı olan adalet kuramları üzerinde irdeleyen Mill'in söylemlerinin ustaca kurgulandığını ifade etmek gerek. Zira fikirlerini çok sağlam temeller üzerine inşa ederken bugünün evrensel ilkeleri haline gelen pek çok fikrin temelini de atıyor. Düşünürün faydacılıkta çizdiği sınır, başka insanların mutluluğunun sınırını oluşturuyor. Bu yönüyle özgürlüğü de aynı şekilde sınırlıyor. Mutlaka okunması gereken bir klasik olan kitapta düşünür Faydacılığı şöyle özetliyor: "Faydayı ya da en yüksek mutluluk ilkesini ahlakın temeli olarak kabul eden bu öğreti, eylemlerimizi mutluluğun gelişimine yol açtığı oranda doğru, mutluluğun tersini ürettiği oranda yanlış bulur. Mutluluk acının yokluğu ve haz anlamına gelir, mutsuzluk ise hazzın yokluğu ve acıdır." (s.61) M.B.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Foad Ansari

    نتونستم با کتاب ارتباط برقرار کنم و خیلی خسته کننده بود برام نمیدونم اشکال از چی بود شاید چند سال دیگه دوباره بخونمش

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ben Labe

    Here, Mill offers a thorough description and defense of his moral theory, proposing the greatest happiness ("utilitarian") principle as the unique first principle underlying all moral conduct. "The 'greatest happiness principle' holds that actions are right in proportion as they promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness," he argues. Happiness, Mill defines as "pleasure itself, together with exemption from pain." While this definition seems dubious at first, Mill d Here, Mill offers a thorough description and defense of his moral theory, proposing the greatest happiness ("utilitarian") principle as the unique first principle underlying all moral conduct. "The 'greatest happiness principle' holds that actions are right in proportion as they promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness," he argues. Happiness, Mill defines as "pleasure itself, together with exemption from pain." While this definition seems dubious at first, Mill demonstrates it to be very robust in its sweep, inventing novel arguments to distinguish between elevated and base pleasures (to Mill, ignorance is anything but bliss) and cleverly subsuming other ends under the banner of the "ultimate" one that he has proposed. That happiness is indeed the ultimate end he infers empirically (rightly admitting the futility of rigorously proving one's first principles). Eventually, Mill proceeds with a discussion of justice and its connection to utility. Not only does he show the primacy of the utilitarian principle over a justice principle in terms of its scope, but he demonstrates how it is capable of resolving disputes over justice. In so doing, he produces two extremely useful examples regarding distributive justice in the field of economics, resulting in the book's very best chapter. All in all, decent philosophy, but very poor style.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Farah Al-Shuhail

    تصوّر نظرية فلسفية تضمن السعادة العظمى لأكبر عدد من الأشخاص، وتقوم على مبدأ الفردية (منفعة الفرد فوق مصلحة المجتمع)، وتستند في قياسها لسلوك الفرد على النتائج أو ما يعرف بالعواقبية (مدى أخلاقية فعل ما تقاس بالنتائج المترتبة على الفعل). هذا، بإختصار، هو المبدأ النفعي الذي أسسه الفيلسوف البريطاني جيريمي بنثام وتأثر به المؤرخ والفيلسوف جيمس مِل ونقله بدوره إلى ابنه جون ستيوارت مِل الذي اخذ على عاتقه مهمة الدفاع عنه. يبدو مبدأ النفعية للوهلة الأولى مثالياً، مما يدفعني للتفكير، إذا كانت النفعية مثالية تصوّر نظرية فلسفية تضمن السعادة العظمى لأكبر عدد من الأشخاص، وتقوم على مبدأ الفردية (منفعة الفرد فوق مصلحة المجتمع)، وتستند في قياسها لسلوك الفرد على النتائج أو ما يعرف بالعواقبية (مدى أخلاقية فعل ما تقاس بالنتائج المترتبة على الفعل). هذا، بإختصار، هو المبدأ النفعي الذي أسسه الفيلسوف البريطاني جيريمي بنثام وتأثر به المؤرخ والفيلسوف جيمس مِل ونقله بدوره إلى ابنه جون ستيوارت مِل الذي اخذ على عاتقه مهمة الدفاع عنه. يبدو مبدأ النفعية للوهلة الأولى مثالياً، مما يدفعني للتفكير، إذا كانت النفعية مثالية وبسيطة إلى هذا الحد لماذا إذاً لم تحقق أي نجاح إلا في الكتب وعلى الأوراق؟ هل بإمكان هذه الفلسفة تخطي النجاح النظري إلى النجاح العملي؟ لم اتمكن من الإجابة على هذا السؤال دون الإستعانة بالفلسفة الأخلاقية المضادة للفلسفة النفعية، أي كَنْت ضد مِل. تقترح نظرية كَنْت اعتراضين: الأول، أن الأسس التي تقوم عليها النفعية لا يمكن الثقة فيها. الثاني: أن الأسس قد تكون قسرية وغير منصفة. تفيد الفلسفة النفعية بأن "تحقيق السعادة هو الشيء الوحيد المرغوب به. سعادة كل شخص هي خير لذلك الشخص، وتكون النتيجة أن السعادة العمومية هي خير لجميع الأشخاص بمجموعهم"، لذا لا يمكننا تأييد أي مبدأ ينطلق من رغبات الأشخاص وميولهم كأساس، إذ أن تلك الرغبات تختلف من فرد لآخر ولدى الفرد نفسه مع تقلب حالاته. لا انكر ان النفعية فلسفة مغرية، ومِل فيلسوف عبقري يعود الفضل إليه في تشكيل فكري وإعادة النظر في مبادئي، كما أن كتابه "عن الحرية" أحد افضل الكتب التي قرأتها وأوصي المهتمين بالفلسفة عامةً وبالفلسفة الأخلاقية خاصةً بقراءة مؤلفاته وشيء من سيرته الشخصية لفهم خلفيته الثقافية ونبوغه في سن صغير.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Mill writes about Utilitarianism. If you've read any modern take on this ethical system, there's nothing new here. The first chapter is very long and boring - I guess back in Mill's time he needed to justify Utilitarianism over other ethical systems like the Christian Bible pleas - now we, probably due to Mill, Utilitarianism is a completely understandable concept and doesn't really need to be defending in contrast to religious morals. The rest of the book is fun, and Mill shows his passion for Mill writes about Utilitarianism. If you've read any modern take on this ethical system, there's nothing new here. The first chapter is very long and boring - I guess back in Mill's time he needed to justify Utilitarianism over other ethical systems like the Christian Bible pleas - now we, probably due to Mill, Utilitarianism is a completely understandable concept and doesn't really need to be defending in contrast to religious morals. The rest of the book is fun, and Mill shows his passion for the subject. It was fun to read his responses to various objections, objections that people still voice today (like how utilitarianism doesn't respect the individual, in favour of the greater good). Its strange that Mill tied in his responses in the book yet people still voice them with blissful disregard to the fact that Mill had plausible responses already lined up. I'd recommend this book to anybody getting into ethical studies. Its an important work that has become a part of our social unconscious.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    The greatest proponent of utilitarianism in modern memory is Dr. Spock of Star Trek fame. The fact that an essay written in the 1860s is still having an impact on contemporary culture speaks to the longevity of J.S. Mill's idea. It has fueled countless debates among students in philosophy classes, and in the general public. The Greatest Happiness Principle is certainly worthy of consideration, and Mill's treatise has probably figured into many people's calculations when weighing momentous life d The greatest proponent of utilitarianism in modern memory is Dr. Spock of Star Trek fame. The fact that an essay written in the 1860s is still having an impact on contemporary culture speaks to the longevity of J.S. Mill's idea. It has fueled countless debates among students in philosophy classes, and in the general public. The Greatest Happiness Principle is certainly worthy of consideration, and Mill's treatise has probably figured into many people's calculations when weighing momentous life decisions.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amy Armstrong

    Okay, I'm not sure what to say about this. It's like milk; it's good for you, but can leave you bloated and gassy and the cover is totally uninspiring. Most of the writing is equally uninspiring. I recommend 2 minutes of Utilitarianism followed by 20 minutes of Googling gossipy facts about Mill.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Yamen Ourabi

    تعتبر فلسفة ميل النفعية رديفة للسعادة العظمى أو أعظم سعادة, وهي ليست فقط بالبحث عن السعادة بل تجنب الشقاء والتخفيف منه . يجادل ميل في كتابه بأن غاية الإنسان هي السعادة, وأن كل مايريده الإنسان سواء في حواسه أو فكره إنما الوصول إلى تلك الغاية,فليصل الإنسان إلى تلك الغاية يستخدم وسائل وكثيراً ما تصبح تلك الوسائل في نظر الإنسان غاية بذاتها, وهنا يقول ميل بأنه رغم ذلك فإن الوسيلة تصبح جزء من الغاية الرئيسية وهي أعظم سعادة. يحاول ميل أن يقنعنا بأن سعادة كل فرد مهمة, وسعادة الكل أيضاً مهمة. فلو حققنا س تعتبر فلسفة ميل النفعية رديفة للسعادة العظمى أو أعظم سعادة, وهي ليست فقط بالبحث عن السعادة بل تجنب الشقاء والتخفيف منه . يجادل ميل في كتابه بأن غاية الإنسان هي السعادة, وأن كل مايريده الإنسان سواء في حواسه أو فكره إنما الوصول إلى تلك الغاية,فليصل الإنسان إلى تلك الغاية يستخدم وسائل وكثيراً ما تصبح تلك الوسائل في نظر الإنسان غاية بذاتها, وهنا يقول ميل بأنه رغم ذلك فإن الوسيلة تصبح جزء من الغاية الرئيسية وهي أعظم سعادة. يحاول ميل أن يقنعنا بأن سعادة كل فرد مهمة, وسعادة الكل أيضاً مهمة. فلو حققنا سعادة الأفراد كل على حدى, ولقنا الأفراد واجبهم تجاه السعادة العامة, لعمل الفرد على مصالحه الخاصة وأيضاً على المصالح العامة, إذاً لحقق سعادته الخاصة والخير بالنسبة للجميع. فجدله إذاً في قضية المنفعة الخاصة والمنفعة العامة, فهو يرى بأن كل فرد يسعى إلى منفعته الخاصة, ولكن إن وجد التربية والبيئة والظروف المناسبة التي تقوي إيمانه بالمنفعة العامة فستصبح تلك المنفعة جزء لا يتجزأ من شخصيته وسيضحي في سبيلها. وتضحية الفرد بسعادته في سبيل سعادة الآخرين هي أعظم فضيلة بنظر ميل. يرى ميل بأن الله يرغب فوق كل اعتبار في سعادة مخلوقاته وهذا هو غرضه من خلقها, فالنفعية عنده ليست نظرية دون إله بل دينية في أعماقها. أما بالنسبة للمشاعر الأخلاقية فهي عنده ليست فطرية بل مكتسبة الشعور بالعدل بالنسبة لميل رغبة حيوانية في الانتقام بسبب الاساءة الملحقة بالنفس أو الإساءة التي ألحقت بمن نتعاطف معهم, والبشر عنده لديهم قدرة كبيرة على التعاطف. وفكرة الحق والعدل عنده نسبية, فالحق عندي مغايراً للحق عند غيري.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill is one tough book to read. But, if one understands it, it does prove to be interesting. Simply put, Mill explains that there is no basis for morality: what is good and what is bad. Utilitarianism is an idea that moral worth of an action is determined by the usefulness of it. People never settle for less. No one would like to be a happy animal. As Mill words it, "It is better to be an unsatisfied Socrates, than a satisfiel fool." Major themes in the book include Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill is one tough book to read. But, if one understands it, it does prove to be interesting. Simply put, Mill explains that there is no basis for morality: what is good and what is bad. Utilitarianism is an idea that moral worth of an action is determined by the usefulness of it. People never settle for less. No one would like to be a happy animal. As Mill words it, "It is better to be an unsatisfied Socrates, than a satisfiel fool." Major themes in the book included happiness, desires, and utility. Unjust laws do exist. This clashes with the theory of justice. Removal of justice would hurt society in the beginning, but, as Mill says, people would eventually learn in the end and peace would exist. If someone threatens your happiness you punish them. That's how Mill envisions justice. Whatever leads you to happiness is good, and that's what the book pretty much states. I feel there's a little hint of Machiavelli in the text. The idea that "the end justifies the means" is one danger I see that utilitarianism may turn into.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    People who've studied philosophy are, IMO, the most interesting people with whom to share conversation. There's a kind of elegance about the way they put a case for an idea, and I like the way that while are open to dissenting opinions, they can demolish them in style. Mills shows how it's done. Here and there he pours a little scorn, but mostly it's a classically intelligent, coherent, logical argument for the principle that when trying to decide on a course of action, one should choose the pos People who've studied philosophy are, IMO, the most interesting people with whom to share conversation. There's a kind of elegance about the way they put a case for an idea, and I like the way that while are open to dissenting opinions, they can demolish them in style. Mills shows how it's done. Here and there he pours a little scorn, but mostly it's a classically intelligent, coherent, logical argument for the principle that when trying to decide on a course of action, one should choose the position that brings happiness to the greatest number of people. 8/10 for utilitarianism; 1/10 for applying it to capital punishment.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill فایده گرایی یا منفعت گرایی نظریه ای ست در باره ی مبانی اخلاق، و فراتر از آن حوزه هایی چون فلسفه ی سیاست و حقوق را نیز دربرمیگیرد Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill فایده‌ گرایی یا منفعت گرایی نظریه‌ ای ست در باره ی مبانی اخلاق، و فراتر از آن حوزه‌ هایی چون فلسفه ی سیاست و حقوق را نیز دربرمی‌گیرد

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mohammed Al-Garawi

    Before I start talking about utilitarianism, let me tell you one thing or two about the philosopher who wrote this book. John Stewart Mill was the son of the 17th century British philosopher James mill. And by taking full control of his son's educations and keeping him from associating with children of his own age, James Mill produced a prodigy who was said to have started learning Greek at three and Latin at seven. By the age of twelve young Mill was a competent logician, by sixteen a skilled ec Before I start talking about utilitarianism, let me tell you one thing or two about the philosopher who wrote this book. John Stewart Mill was the son of the 17th century British philosopher James mill. And by taking full control of his son's educations and keeping him from associating with children of his own age, James Mill produced a prodigy who was said to have started learning Greek at three and Latin at seven. By the age of twelve young Mill was a competent logician, by sixteen a skilled economist- and at twenty he had a nervous breakdown. Public education my ass. Now that you've had a glimpse of Mill's background, here's the definition of utilitarianism: a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, usually defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering. In other words, the morality of an action is judged by how much happiness it produces and how much suffering it reduces. Classic utilitarianism is very similar to, if not a branch of consequentialism (defining the moral justice of an action by its consequences). In this book, Mill defines utilitarianism, defends it, and gives his opinion I how to apply it and enhance its applications in real life. He also presents his theory of natural rights and democracy. All in all, this is a shot, yet a very dense read. I definitely recommend it to those who are interested in moral philosophy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    The last chapter saved this book from a one-star rating. While it's still wrong in a whole, I believe that Mill makes very small but important points throughout the book. For instance, he realizes that equality, with a government, requires inequality because some have more power than others (i.e. the people in government). Overall, though, his "proof" of utilitarianism is weak. His analysis of other ethical theories are very topical and not in-depth. And lastly, the most annoying thing about thi The last chapter saved this book from a one-star rating. While it's still wrong in a whole, I believe that Mill makes very small but important points throughout the book. For instance, he realizes that equality, with a government, requires inequality because some have more power than others (i.e. the people in government). Overall, though, his "proof" of utilitarianism is weak. His analysis of other ethical theories are very topical and not in-depth. And lastly, the most annoying thing about this book; WAY too many damn commas and extra thoughts in the middle of a sentence. What looks like a paragraph sometimes turns into one sentence with commas and semi-colons. The chapter on justice saves it a little bit but he doesn't seem to offer any solutions. For instance, he points out that we could possibly blame somebody for something they didn't do or we could NOT do that, which is more just? Well, Mill says it could go either way which this is completely counter-intuitive. He also says that a person deserves to keep his money, the rich specifically, because it brings more utility. His biggest arguments are his weakest yet very subtle and intelligent points come out mixed with those big arguments.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mohamedridha Alaskari محمد رضا العسكري

    اعتبر هذا الكتاب بأنه محاولة لستيوارت مل لفهم وتبسيط مبدأ النفعية الذي اعتبر مؤخرا كمفهوم مكمل لفلسفة الاخلاق والذي اسسه بنثام والتي تعبتر اليوم ضرورية لفهم الفسلسفة الاخلاقية. المقصود بالنفعية في هذا الكتاب هو الوصول لاقصى حالات السعادة للفرد والمجتمع، ويطرح الكاتب سلسلة من المسببات والنتائج والامثلة التي تسند نظريته التي يربطها لاهوتيا بالدين والاخلاق. اعتقد بأن مفهوم النفعية اعمق من ان يكون مفهوم اخلاقي مرتب بالدين او ان النفعية تكونت بسبب الدين.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

    If you have utter antipathy toward Utilitarianism or consider it an impracticable or vague theory, you probably just need to read the work. Mill describes much more than the simplistic, mathematical view often attributed to him. I would venture that perhaps no other moral theory would better align with the general public's sentiment than Mill's. This is not to endorse the theory--I am not a utilitarian--but it is to say it is worth consideration, and definitely worth a careful read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Smith

    This book is short but very challenging. I would suggest reading it over and over again until you have the "Eureka!" moment that will be life changing. It took me 7 reads to feel like I really got the gist of what John Stuart Mills was trying to express on ethics and happiness. In the end, I didn't agree with everything he thought but it touched me and I still think about it years later. Now that's what I call a successful book!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    An interesting philosophy, and one of the most important informers of today's morality. It's surprising how much we refer to the ideas in the book, without even thinking about it. So many parts of public policy are grounded in it, from social welfare to cost-benefit analysis. It was really great to read the book and get more of an understanding about where we are today and where we came from.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karl Hallbjörnsson

    a moral theory written by a bourgeois political economist. conceptually from bentham. i dunno - not my fave. *update, second read* its shit

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Bertsch

    The philosophy is solid, but Mill spends too many words defending it (admittedly probably quite necessary at that time.) I would have been interested in seeing more about how he saw it being applied.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed Abdelazim

    بيقولك " نختبر ونقرر مدى جدارته بالانتماء الى المجموعة البشرية " وايضا " التضحية الواعية والمعقولة في فترة انتقالية مقبولة " اليمين ديما بيدلو بدلوه التنفيذي على الأرض مباشرة، وده أدفانتج فشيخ.

  24. 5 out of 5

    mohab samir

    رد قوى ومنهجى من مل على ناقدى المذهب النفعى . تحليل بسيط وتتابع منظم للأفكار الواقعيةالتى تتقافز فى أذهان معظم المفكرين . خاصة فيما يختص بالسعادة الفردية أو السعادة العامة

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    By simple definition: utilitarianism - a doctrine that actions are right if they are useful or benefit a majority... this can be compared to that which is considered epicurean...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Otto Lehto

    Mill's essay is a rambling thing of some beauty and of unquestionable merit. Utiliarianism of his mentor Bentham is richly espoused and its principles defended. Mill's version of the doctrine shows a kind of post-Enlightenment rationalist culmination of the long line of British sentimentalist moralists (Locke, Hume) and their synthesis with the principles of industrial design: calculations of utility are offered to replace the wishy-washy "feelgood" of more pastoral writers of the 17th Century. B Mill's essay is a rambling thing of some beauty and of unquestionable merit. Utiliarianism of his mentor Bentham is richly espoused and its principles defended. Mill's version of the doctrine shows a kind of post-Enlightenment rationalist culmination of the long line of British sentimentalist moralists (Locke, Hume) and their synthesis with the principles of industrial design: calculations of utility are offered to replace the wishy-washy "feelgood" of more pastoral writers of the 17th Century. But the principle remains the same: the good is that which we desire is that which induces pleasure. So far so good. Utilitarianism rests on two common premises which it did not invent but inherited: 1) that pleasure is the end of all action. 2) that all men are created equal (-ly capable and worthy of it). It deduced from these earlier premises the fruitful but somewhat megalomaniac conclusion, its Major Premise, i.e. the famous utilitarian maxim: 3) that action is good which tends to produce the greatest overall level of happiness for the greatest number. From this all else follows: human actions, social institutions, laws, ALL need to serve the Happiness Principle. In line with many other optimistic, progressive thinkers of his time (of whom he mentions with fawning adulation the father of positivism, A.Comte), Mill believed in the perfectibility of man. Social institutions are more or less worthy based on their effect on total human happiness. The child, for him, is pretty much a blank slate to be educated and socialized according to utilitarian design. He is also a champion of a kind of moral reductionism, close to relativism, whereby virtue and justice (et al) are relegated to the courtiers of the One Principle of happiness/interest/utility (all of which he uses interchangeably). There is a lot to criticize here, from the unwarranted optimism and the reductionistic megalomania to the slightly elitist top-down "managerial" approach to morality. Good intentions and rationalist hubris can lead astray. But there is a lot to admire, as well. He was one of the first to notice the historical development (onward march) of moral notions from the rationalization of gross injustice (i.e. pain-inducing actions and laws) to the redefinition of laws to maximize utility for everybody. He saw their proper aim of moral development to be the enlargement of the scope of happiness to all sentient beings. Peter Singer owes his fruitful career to Mill. The Great Apes are thankful. Mill was also a greatly flexible thinker, which more doctrinaire minds will probably find fault at. In line with his liberal ideas of tolerance, he saw everything as worthy of questioning. To be able to compare (policies, actions, laws) according to an "objective" standard is, 1) certainly a worthy goal, 2) an improvement over the divine revelation, unfounded intuitionism and sentimental grunts that usually pass for moral arguments, 3) a fruitful endeavour and an open-ended process that is capable of true moral improvement and progress. After all, utilitarianism has already opened a million can-of-worms (like animal rights, euthanasia, penal policy). An ends-based approach leaves the field open for an infinity of means. Such morality is essentially pluralistic. It is the strange admixture of moral flexibility (i.e. open-mindedness) and an appeal to universal principles (i.e. faith in the happiness principle) that marks Mill's social liberalism a unique blend of inherited Lockean individualism and acquired budding utopian socialism. There are many faults with the doctrine of utilitarianism, but this book is not one of them. Despite the unsatisfactorily hazy nature of the implications of the doctrine (what does it say about specific policies? How DOES one go about comparing utilities? Who does the counting?), or perhaps precisely because of it, Mill's version of utilitarianism has continued to fascinate thinkers looking for a good challenge and a bit of faith in humanity. Essential reading, absolutely. Mill, for all truth-seekers, is a co-conspirator in the breaking of all taboos. Such philosophy has awesome real-life implications.

  27. 5 out of 5

    thethousanderclub

    What can I say about a book like Utilitarianism? It's a book or treatise only a few will ever read. Normally devoured and debated by full time academics, I'm one of the odd folks who reads a treatise like Utilitarianism for pleasure and my own person gratification. John Stuart Mill's intellectual work can easily be compared to similar works like Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, John Locke's Two Treatises of Government and a Letter Concerning Toleration, and of course Mill' What can I say about a book like Utilitarianism? It's a book or treatise only a few will ever read. Normally devoured and debated by full time academics, I'm one of the odd folks who reads a treatise like Utilitarianism for pleasure and my own person gratification. John Stuart Mill's intellectual work can easily be compared to similar works like Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, John Locke's Two Treatises of Government and a Letter Concerning Toleration, and of course Mill's other work, which I enjoyed quite a bit more than Utilitarianism, On Liberty. It's a foundational work, and it deserves a thorough and thoughtful study because it contributes so meaningfully to any conversation regarding morals, ethics, and justice. In order to read a treatise like Utilitarianism the reader has to understand the usual method and mode by which these are written. As I have read more and more of these political, philosophical, and ideological explorations, I have seen them more and more in a modern context. In other words, they were the discussion boards and online debates before our world was so interconnected by the internet and the various social sites that link us all together (pun intended). Often the writers of these intellectual works are responding directly to a critic, but it feels as if they're writing into a vacuum. (Locke's first treatise of government feels especially vacuous). When we think of asynchronous communication now we think of emails going back and forth between senders and receivers. But even that could occur within a few days, hours, or minutes. During Mill's time a debate could extend for decades between disputants--one treatise at a time. Having said all of that, Utilitarianism is an enjoyable and challenging read, as well as being somewhat arcane, as one would expect. Like many of the other works of this nature, it is very easy for a modern reader to get lost in the prose. The extremely long sentences which deal with multiple complex ideas and the lack of paragraph breaks or other reading cues that we're now familiar with. In addition, you might wonder where Mills or other writers like him are heading or what point they're trying to make among all of their logical contortions. One has to admire a mind like Mills and his ability to see the world from a different and more conceptual perspective than most of us can. A book like Utilitarianism is important because it informs our assumptions and our a priori convictions. We take for granted that certain knowledge, mostly accepted by Western civilization, wasn't so accepted several hundred years ago. Mill, along with other thinkers like him, helped push our understanding forward into, hopefully, a more enlightened state. Utilitarianism is well worth a read if you already have a decent knowledge regarding the topics being discussed in the treatise. If not, it will be an especially difficult slog. Furthermore, if you're looking for a work from Mill to read, I would recommend his On Liberty much more readily than I would Utilitarianism. Notable Quotes: "Mankind are always predisposed to believe that any subjective feeling...is a revelation of some objective reality" "That a feeling is bestowed on us by Nature, does not necessarily legitimate all its promptings." "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied." http://thethousanderclub.blogspot.com/

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    Mill inherited the mantle of Utilitarianism from his father, James Mill, and his godfather, Jeremy Bentham. Though he was schooled in it from a young age, in his later writing life he became no mere parrot of his forefathers' theories -- he critiqued, extended, and improved them. Mill saw a fundamental flaw in Bentham's Utilitarianism: if what we must aim for is the greatest happiness of the greatest number, then this condition can be satisfied if the majority of society are sated and made happy Mill inherited the mantle of Utilitarianism from his father, James Mill, and his godfather, Jeremy Bentham. Though he was schooled in it from a young age, in his later writing life he became no mere parrot of his forefathers' theories -- he critiqued, extended, and improved them. Mill saw a fundamental flaw in Bentham's Utilitarianism: if what we must aim for is the greatest happiness of the greatest number, then this condition can be satisfied if the majority of society are sated and made happy by rather base pleasures -- food, sex, and so on. But for Mill this prospect did not seem to live up to the idea of human flourishing. So he came up with what is known as the 'hierarchy of pleasures', summed up by the epigram "It is better to be Socrates disatisfied than a Fool satisfied." That is, there are 'higher pleasures', such as intellectual contemplation or artistic creation, which are in some sense 'worth more' than baser pleasures like food, drink, and sex. Though the lower pleasures are still pleasurable (and still Good in their own way), aspiring to a life filled with the higher pleasures makes one better off, even if you don't achieve them. The frustrating aspect of this is that it seems like it should be right, but it also doesn't seem like he has a good argument to say why these higher pleasures are actually better than the lower ones; because he is a Utilitarian, all he has to appeal to to judge them is their utility, i.e. their ability to create happiness or pleasure. This does not seem to allow him to argue for a qualitative difference in pleasures as opposed to a merely quantitative weighing of what brings a particular individual the most happiness. And on that basis, someone who enjoys a lot of delicious food and great sex but has never read a book or thought about anything in any depth with, according to the Greatest Happiness Principle, be living a much better life than a frustrated philosopher or artist. So though I think Mill is right about this, it also exposes a flaw in Utilitarian thinking. Nonetheless, as I noted in my review of On Liberty the Utilitarian idea that public policy and the public good ought to be directed at making the greatest number of people as well off as they can be was a revolutionary idea. They forcefully pointed out that very often following particular "rules" of organization or structure were liable to create misery and suffering, even though these "rules" were seen to be the "right thing to do". That the public good should be beholden firstly to the achieving the best lot for the most people that we can seems so obvious to us now, but only because we had thinkers and writers (and politicians -- let us not forget Mill was an MP for four years) like Mill to thank for that. And, as I also noted in my other review, I have Mill to thank for decisively shaping my early intellectual development.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brian Powell

    It's pretty hard to disagree with a moral system based on the greatest good for the greatest number, and Mill argues his case passionately. That said, I'm not quite ready to assail an innocent man in a hospital waiting room so that his organs might be harvested to save the lives a few wanting people in the ICU. Consequentalist moral systems seem to suffer from a formidable complication regarding foresight, or the ability of people to understand the ramifications of their actions a priori. Mill a It's pretty hard to disagree with a moral system based on the greatest good for the greatest number, and Mill argues his case passionately. That said, I'm not quite ready to assail an innocent man in a hospital waiting room so that his organs might be harvested to save the lives a few wanting people in the ICU. Consequentalist moral systems seem to suffer from a formidable complication regarding foresight, or the ability of people to understand the ramifications of their actions a priori. Mill argues that the actual consequences of our actions are immaterial -- that it's the intent that ultimately matters (the example Mill uses of a person saving another person from drowning just so that might kill him later is quaint, if not a little irrelevant.) My concern is that moral agents acting according to Mill's utilitarianism must have a highly sophisticated ethical calculus by which they determine and weigh how the costs and benefits of each of their actions square with the accounting of the greater good. Two men in their nineties are drowning and a gifted 12-year-old is being lowered into a shark tank -- What do we do? We can't know a priori the consequences of either action. So what principle do we apply? An accounting in lives is simple enough, but it is untrue that more saved lives implies a greater good for a greater number (the 12-year-old could end up inventing the cure for leukemia, and the two ninety-somethings might die the next day anyway). Exactly how the well-being of individuals translates into the greater good of society is not addressed by Mill, and seems a difficulty for consequentialism in general. It's not that utilitarianism is misguided -- it isn't. My point is that there is much information that must be taken into account before we even begin to understand how our actions might affect the greater good, even if we had a calculus for making this determination, which we might or might not. And even if we had this information and this calculus, we can't know all the ramifications, and of course it further depends on the time scale across which these consequences are applied -- days, years, centuries (which might be part of our calculus, but maybe not). So, I get it -- you make the best decision you can, given your life experience, that you believe improves the fitness of the most people. And you'd probably succeed in actually doing this maybe 20% of the time.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    During the first semester at Loyola University Chicago I enrolled in David Ozar's Ethics Survey course. Treated in that class was Natural Law Ethics, Deontology and Utilitarianism. Having never taken an ethics course before, I found the class and its readings quite interesting. I also found one of the presumptions apparently held by all the ethicists we read objectionable. What I found questionable was as regards the matter of agency. Previous study of cultural anthropology, psychology and religi During the first semester at Loyola University Chicago I enrolled in David Ozar's Ethics Survey course. Treated in that class was Natural Law Ethics, Deontology and Utilitarianism. Having never taken an ethics course before, I found the class and its readings quite interesting. I also found one of the presumptions apparently held by all the ethicists we read objectionable. What I found questionable was as regards the matter of agency. Previous study of cultural anthropology, psychology and religion had problematized the notion for me. Psychologists commonly described cases of fragmented or multiple agency. Religions commonly assigned various identities to the motivating factors behind the behaviors of some persons. Cultural anthropologists commonly described peoples who held to notions of collective agency. How could it be then that philosophers could so blithely treat human biological entities as correspondent to individual ethical agents? Some back argument seemed necessary, an argument I recalled suggested by Origen in his De Principiis, wherein is stated that Christians are of monotheistic belief in order that their souls might become one. Representative of Utilitarianism for this class were Jeremy Bentham--for the simplest, hedonic version--and John Stuart Mill, neither of whom dealt at all with the problem of agency, both of whom, however, were quite clear in detailing an ethical programme for individuals of sound mind. This critical edition of Mill's Utilitarianism has excellent notes and commentary.

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