Essay Example on Utilitarianism Mill Argues Kant's formula of Universal Law








In Utilitarianism Mill argues that the ultimate sanction of all morality besides external motives is the subjective feeling of conscience He states that in order to moral rules to have binding force there must be results for human beings who break these moral rules Through Chapter 3 Mill scrutinizes what sanctions can utilitarianism provide According to him there are external and internal sanctions of utilitarianism Internal sanctions derive from one s conscience Conscience contains feelings which are in one s own mind and produces displeasure in case of violation of a duty Thus internal sanctions are important elements for the moral theory of Mill In this paper I will briefly explain Mill position towards internal sanctions and will discuss Kant s position as an alternative to Mill In the book presents that there are few areas in which there is greater lack of unanimity than the question of the foundation of morality There is this similar confusion in science too however its progress does not depend on this Our moral faculty supplies us with general principles which we can deduce our further private moral judgments It has not been decided on a particular principle However there is still the covered domination of a standard which I think that standard as Kant's formula of Universal law On the other hand Mill claims that this standard is the greatest human happiness principle According to him everybody accepts that the greatest happiness is the prime study of morality He then explains Utilitarianism or Happiness Theory as a way to attain greatest happiness He holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness p 186 2 Mill further adds that no system of ethics requires that the sole motive of all we do shall be a feeling of duty on the contrary ninety nine hundredths of all our actions are done from other motives and rightly so done if the rule of duty does not contemn them p 195 19 This answer is to the objectors of utilitarianism who found utilitarianism s standards being too high for humanity it implies that it is ethic s works to tell us what our duties are Mill thinks in contrast to Kant about duties

For instance in case of a soldier who sacrifices his life for his country utilitarianism refuses to accept that sacrifice is itself a good Rather if it does not increase the happiness they consider the sacrifice as wasted Maxim of an action is not important for utilitarianism what they found important is the consequences of an action Further a man who saves another from drowning does what is morally right whether his motive be duty or the hope of being paid for his trouble p 195 19 Also from Jesus of Nazareth we can read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility It is not for the agent s own happiness but for all the society Hence we can sum up these notions as that the maxim behind our actions is not vital Nevertheless the consequences of that action must maximize the happiness and not for just one s own but for throughout the whole of society Thus duties or all other things such as virtue and knowledge can be instruments for happiness but not for their own sakes The only thing we desire for its own sake is pleasure In other words maximizing the happiness In order moral rules to have a binding force upon human beings there must be a criterion to evaluate them According to Mill we need a criterion to evaluate them We require principles such as Do not steal and Do not kill We need them as subordinate rules on rules which we derive from moral faculty Like any other ethical system utilitarianism requires those dependent rules to get from its general principles to specific actions But there is already the customary morality which the human society established as a modest store of practical moral wisdom Customary morality presents itself to the mind with the feeling of being in itself obligatory p 203 1

Mill further adds the importance of education as we will be able to gain a greater feeling of unity with our fellow creatures with the aid of an improved education Utilitarianism provides a clearer explanation of this customary morality In Chapter 3 Mill focuses on the question of the ultimate sanction of principle of utility He interprets this as questions about the motives to obey it source of its obligation or binding force p 203 1 At first glance Mill s questions seem empirical As if we need these sanctions to build a fixed utilitarian society which members of it accept the principles and to follow it in their acts However through the end of the chapter Mill seems to be answering a different question The principle question is how can we care as much about any other person as about ourselves in order to maximize the happiness in society At this point the sanction of a moral principle is the motivation to obey it and makes us able to care for our fellow creatures as much as we care for ourselves Mill distinguishes between internal and external sanctions External sanctions are the hope of favor and the fear of displeasure from our fellow creatures or from the Ruler of the Universe p 204 3 We desire confirmation of others and God The properties such as rewards and punishments provide the external sanction of human behavior It generally forms the peer pressure in other words fear for peer s or God s disapproval

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