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Mill and pleasure - Essay Example

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According to Mill’s utilitarianism which presumes a hedonistic theory of value, only things of fundamental value are equated to happiness and they include pleasure and the lack of pain. He is of the view that as humans strives for individual happiness, so must they collectively struggle for the delight of the people. This view is supported by Plato whom according to, the society mirrors the soul of the individual first followed by the virtues of the society mirroring the virtues of the individual. Though he equates pleasure to happiness, he appreciates some pleasures being higher than others, “Not all pleasures have equal value.” Higher pleasures are more valuable than lower pleasures. For example Pleasures of the mind are ranked higher than those of the body or a pleasure that comes with helping a needy person is considered great as compared to the pleasure as a result of taking alcohol. Mill goes against the basic principle of ethics which presumes actions as being right if they promote pleasure of the most number. The intuitive view that bases ethics on self-evident principles, according to him, is not workable for it does not apply to usefulness. He chooses the inductive outlook which supports principles on experiential facts. Through his empiricism as mentioned by Gensler (1998) He (Mill) claims that even a sum like two plus two which equals to four ( 2+2=4) is based on sense experience. The assertions by Mill that however great a sensual or lower pleasure may be it cannot be compared to an intellectual or higher pleasure however small it is and that mental pain is higher while physical pain is lower is biased and contradictory. Here, he does not establish the truth of his consequentialism view of utilitarianism which indicates that actions are to be judged right or wrong based on consequences. On the other hand, Hedonism principle demands that in assessing consequences what matters is the amount of happiness or unhappiness that is caused. In the philosophical utilitarianism by Mill, it is clear that pleasure is good in itself, that is, it is intrinsically good. This means that other things such as money, health and virtues like generosity; integrity and many more others are goods as means to an end. But according to Aristotle, such virtues are not only as a means to the supreme end which is ‘eudainonia’ or happiness but also they are ends in themselves. This begs for a clear distinction between the two forms of a good, a good as a means and a good as an end, however, a good can have both intrinsic and instrumental values for example health. The difference between the two can be well explained by looking at the two non-deontological traditions of the good as embraced by Aristotle and Mill, Good - Intrinsic and Merely Instrumental Good Aristotle’s Teleological tradition construes the good in terms of its fulfillment of ends as natural or proper to a creature thus conceived as immanent. Mill’s consequentiality on the other hand holds that a good is quantitatively maximized, that is, it is as a result of our acts. Another differentiation is that teleological goes beyond ...Show more


Introduction Pleasure, as define in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2009), is the state or feeling of being pleased or gratified, that which affords enjoyment or delight to an individual. Philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) in his works comes out strong in creative a constructive examination of the space and the position of people in it and particularly individual freedom and the well-being of humans…
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