John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism: A Simple Definition

I wanted to briefly add a definition of Utilitarianism to my blog page. The other day I was relaying my certainty that consequences are the deciding factor for me when it comes to deciding what the most moral action is. Upon doing this, I realized I did not have a definition in my mind with all the premises and logic laid out succinctly at hand (written by my hands and with my knowledge).

The definitions I found online were too long.

So, I thought … why not give it a go.

This is not really the definition of Mill’s Utilitarianism but is the oversimplification that I think is satisfactory. Let me know if you take issue with it (contact info at the bottom of this blog post).

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Mill’s Utilitarianism:

Premise 1: Healthy pleasure, not happiness, is the highest good in life.

P2: Unnecessary suffering is the opposite of healthy pleasure.

P3: All healthy humans feel pain and suffering.

P4: All unnecessary pain and suffering are bad.

P5: Doing good results in pleasure.

P6: Doing good is better than doing bad because doing bad causes pain and suffering.

P7: All healthy humans deserve to feel pleasure rather than pain.

Conclusion: Thus, we should maximize good by doing the most good for the highest number of people.

The core propositions of Utilitarian ethical theory is that all pain and suffering that is unnecessary is bad. When we start with this premise, the following premise that follows is that causing good is better than causing pain, since pain is bad. The unstated premise in this theory is that life is better than death and that life should be preserved because death is worse than life or, at least, bad. It is presumed that this is agreed upon when arguing for this view. Certainly, some nihilists would disagree with Mill’s principle that healthy pleasure. The pleasure in this argument is classified as “healthy” because hedonists may smuggle in various acts that do not produce the highest amount of pleasure. Thus, this pleasure must be healthy.

Before you go…

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I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers and until next time,

keep reflecting.

Author of “Up in the Air: Christianity, Atheism & the Global Problems of the 21st Century” on AMAZON | Exploring Ethical Living | IG: jakub.ferencik.official

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