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Utilitarianism

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The idea of Utilitarianism has such a broad scope that even breaking an argument into minuscule

pieces can raise the deepest of thoughts. Utilitarianism is plainly stated as 'a theory of that prescribes the maximization of good consequences for a population' (Wikipedia). In John Stuart Mill's essay, the notion of Utilitarianism is affirmed on many levels but is broadly understood as 'the greatest good for the greatest number'. Utilitarianism is not protective of the minority in any given situation. This is confirmed by Mill in the passage stating that if there are 'two pleasures' or 'two modes of existence' the persons who have experienced both, or, if there is a difference in opinion, the majority, must be considered the 'most grateful to the feelings' and 'admitted as final'. Thus, in Mill's eyes, the qualitative superiority of one pleasure over another must come from 'competent judges' from whose verdict 'there can be no appeal'. 'Utilitarianism does say that, from an ideal and objective moral standpoint, the commitments of all people should be valued equally. This is necessary for any philosophy which is neither biased in favor of specific people, nor supportive of self-interest over the welfare of others (Ian's World).'

It is important to mention that, in Mill's opinion, a competent judge is anyone who has experienced both the lower and higher pleasures. The competent judges must also not be influenced by the idea that one pleasure is more moral than the other. 'Moral intuitions can be a sort of useful piece of evidence in many arguments, but they prove nothing when it comes to normative ideas. Recall that a normative idea serves as a theoretical ideal, which describes a perfect state of affairs (or a perfect strategy for action), providing a basis against which to evaluate reality (Ian's World).' The judges must recognize that no quantity of the lesser feeling is more beneficial than quality of the greater feeling. A competent judge must not let their thoughts be influenced by the safety of the feeling, the cost of the feeling, or the amount of time the feeling will last. The final and perhaps most disoncerting of the requirements is that competent judges must prefer the greater of the two feelings even if the lesser of the two brings more discontent. To understand the idea of a governing body whose goal is the quest of the greater feeling (higher quality pleasure), the thought of the existence of such feelings must be addressed. Pleasures are 'not inner feelings but states and activities that are the objects of preference and are the only things desirable

as ends (or parts of happiness), not means. Mill claims a life including activities that 'develop and exercise our distinctively human powers is a better, happier life than one that does not.' This claim brings light to the previous claim in which Mill regards the higher quality pleasures as superior even if those superior pleasures include discontent. With that said, a judge does not simply choose the higher pleasure over any given quantity of the lower pleasure, rather the judge is asserting that one pleasure is higher than the other based on the fact that it is chosen over any quantity of the other pleasure (The Philisophical Quarterly).

If a 'competent judge' is a person best fit to value different activities then this begs the question, what is my purpose as a reasoning, thinking thing? Where is my place in a society which undervalues my interest in an activity in which I am the minority? The role of these 'competent judges' seem to be of a more utopian nature than that of a human society. This idea of a person or group of persons (a tribunal) deciding on the sensory value of certain activities without hesitation from opposing parties is surely incomprehensible to any reasonable human. A tribunal gathering persons with all of the qualifications listed by Mill would be almost certainly unreaslistic.

It is human nature to assume a moral standard when making a decision or choosing an outcome. Without moral reasoning humans would not reason. Mill is asking these 'competent judges' to be numb to the very foundation of reasoning. They are in a position of higher reasoning without the tools to reasonably declare one pleasure greater than the other. 'It is vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the interest of the individual (Bentham).' While it may benefit individuals to have a healthy society or a functional state, neither of these are ends in themselves. Furthermore, if a conclusion has been made with regard to a certain pleasure, is it the role of a reasoning human being, in the minority, to submit his prior moral standard to that of the elected 'competent judge'? 'And there needs be the less hesitation to accept this judgment respecting the quality of pleasures, since there is no other

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