Ethical Autobiographical Essay

He believed that a “desire of perfection” and sympathy for fellow human beings belong to human nature.One of the central tenets of Mill’s political outlook is that, not only the rules of society, but also people themselves are capable of improvement.

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Even if the circumstances of the genesis of this work gesture to an occasional piece with a popular goal, on closer examination turns out to be a carefully conceived work, rich in thought.

One must not forget that since his first reading of Bentham in the winter of 1821-22, the time to which Mill dates his conversion to utilitarianism, forty years had passed.

His view of theory of life was monistic: There is one thing, and one thing only, that is intrinsically desirable, namely pleasure.

In contrast to a form of hedonism that conceives pleasure as a homogeneous matter, Mill was convinced that some types of pleasure are more valuable than others in virtue of their inherent qualities.

Taken this way, was anything but a philosophical accessory, and instead the programmatic text of a thinker who for decades had understood himself as a utilitarian and who was profoundly familiar with popular objections to the principle of utility in moral theory.

Almost ten years earlier (1852) Mill had defended utilitarianism against the intuitionistic philosopher William Whewell ().

Its goal is to justify the utilitarian principle as the foundation of morals.

This principle says actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote overall human happiness.

One may respond that this problem results from an anachronistic understanding of utilitarianism, and that it disappears if one abstains from imputing modern philosophical concepts on a philosopher of the nineteenth century. For it is not clear whether Mill’s value theory was indeed hedonistic (see Brink 1992).

As mentioned before, Mill maintains that hedonism is the of utilitarianism; if he were not a hedonist, he would be no utilitarian by his own definition.


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