Utilitarianism, On Liberty, and Essay on Bentham: …
Lewis was a man of Mill’s own age, equipped with similar precocious erudition, and of utilitarian sympathies. His book dealt with the relation of logic to politics, a topic in which Mill was then too deeply interested to treat casually. Two years later he confessed to Carlyle that his review was an outgrowth from his own mind and the truest he had ever written—that is, it was no mere product of an orthodox utilitarian schooling. He commended Lewis’s attempt to bring a lucid logic into the language of politics, since slovenly thinking and equivocal words were together the bane of political discussion. But he took strong exception to certain points, of which the most important concerned rights. Lewis, following his teacher John Austin, argued that all rights are creations of law and the will of the sovereign. To call anything a right which is not enforceable in the courts is an abuse of language. In contrast Mill emphasized the reality of moral rights. He contended that, in saying that no man has a moral right to think as he pleases, for he ought to inform himself and think justly, Dr. Johnson refers to a right Lewis evidently fails to comprehend. Yet for Mill a right in the Johnsonian sense is no abuse of terms; it is good logic and good English. Rights are the correlatives of obligations and duties, and moral as well as legal rights have a necessary and significant place in the contemporary state. It is a moral right of subjects to be well-governed and a moral duty of the sovereign to govern well. The focus of this criticism is the mischief inherent in unduly simplified and inflexible concepts. Mill reacts here against the rigidity of some utilitarian logicians. His further complaint concerned the apparent and unjustified contempt with which Lewis disposed of Locke and Rousseau for assuming an unhistorical and fictitious state of nature and a social contract. Mill believed that it was inconsequential whether anything like a state of nature existed. The real issue was the extent to which as an hypothesis it shed light on the fact of a morality outside the law to which men could appeal. To Mill as to Locke such morality was important. Independent states in relations with one another remained in a state of nature, without a common superior, but responsive to moral obligations and duties. However unskilfully formulated, the old theories of the social contract and the inalienable rights of man in Mill’s opinion had a rightful place in the evolution of political liberty and justice by indicating a pragmatic limit on the power of the sovereign. He concluded his review of Lewis’s book by emphasizing the necessity of recognizing, despite all the linguistic differences, the close relationship between ideas of different political thinkers, and also the possibility of combining them into a whole.
Utilitarianism : on liberty : essay on Bentham
thesis statements, and conclusions for your utilitarianism essay
So Mill rejects the substantive doctrines of psychological egoismand hedonism that Bentham and his father sometimes defended orsuggested. This is really part of a larger criticism of the conceptionof psychology and human nature underlying Benthamite utilitarianism,which Mill elaborates in his essays on Bentham. Mill's desire todistance himself from Benthamite assumptions about human nature andpsychology are also reflected in his conception of happiness and hisdoctrine of higher pleasures.
John stuart mill utilitarianism on liberty and essay on bent
One issue raised in the above remarks is relevant to practicaldeliberation in general. To what extent should proponents of agiven theory, or a given rule, or a given policy — or evenproponents of a given one-off action — consider what they thinkpeople will actually do, as opposed to what they think thosesame people ought to do (under full and reasonable reflection,for example)? This is an example of something that comes up inthe Actualism/possibilism debate in accounts of practicaldeliberation. Extrapolating from the example used above, we havepeople who advocate telling the truth, or what they believe to be thetruth, even if the effects are bad because the truth is somehow misusedby others. On the other hand are those who recommend not tellingthe truth when it is predicted that the truth will be misused by othersto achieve bad results. Of course it is the case that the truthought not be misused, that its misuse can be avoided and is notinevitable, but the misuse is entirely predictable. Sidgwickseems to recommending that we follow the course that we predict willhave the best outcome, given as part of our calculations the data thatothers may fail in some way — either due to having bad desires,or simply not being able to reason effectively. The worryWilliams points to really isn't a worry specifically withutilitarianism (Driver 2011). Sidgwick would point outthat if it is bad to hide the truth, because ‘GovernmentHouse’ types, for example, typically engage in self-deceptiverationalizations of their policies (which seems entirely plausible),then one shouldn't do it. And of course, that heavilyinfluences our intuitions.