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PHIL-P140 Mill's Utilitarianism Chapter 1 Notes

by: Kathryn Brinser

PHIL-P140 Mill's Utilitarianism Chapter 1 Notes PHIL-P 140

Marketplace > Indiana University > PHIL-P 140 > PHIL P140 Mill s Utilitarianism Chapter 1 Notes
Kathryn Brinser
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About this Document

Covers John Stuart Mill's introduction chapter to his work Utilitarianism and the 1868 Speech on Capital Punishment.
Introduction to Ethics
Daniel Linsenbardt
Class Notes
phil-p140, ethics, Mill, Utilitarianism
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kathryn Brinser on Friday September 9, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL-P 140 at Indiana University taught by Daniel Linsenbardt in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views.


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Date Created: 09/09/16
P140 John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism Chapter 1 Notes- General Remarks 8-25-16  Not much progress in concretely identifying right/wrong o Summum b1num- “the highest good,” dictating which values/priorities established in ethical systems o Very smart philosophers still argue heatedly about ethics  Socrates (according to Plato) brought about ideas of utilitarianism despite popular sophism  Even more certain fields like math/science have uncertainties of concepts (disagreements of method) like more arbitrary topic of philosophy  Theories/facts of a science do not hinge on/not normally derived from its first principles o Ex. “…there would be no science more precarious…than algebra, which derives none of its certainty from what are commonly taught to learners as its elements, since these…are as full of fictions as English law, and of mysteries as theology.” o Facts accepted as first principles are most recent results of ethical analysis; related to the science 3 through “tree branch”-like logical connections o Essentially, accepted truths work well enough  All actions have purpose of achieving something; rules regarding actions must relate to end goal o Must know what goal is o Test of right vs. wrong should determine what is right/wrong; standard of right/wrong should not establish a test  Idea of having moral instincts in dispute o Those who think we do must not have predisposed thoughts on philosophy o Cannot rely on instinct as a concrete standard- only gives general ideas o Not equivalent to 5 senses; matter of opinion  Ethics based/relies on general truths, not rigid standards o Many people follow similar moral laws, but have different sources of reasoning for doing so o According to “school of ethics” (“intuitive”) principles of morality are a priori- self-evident given that one understands terminology used 4  An action’s ethics is not matter of perception; application of general truth to individual case’s context  Rarely specify rules/principles to base intuitions on- assume “ordinary” ethical ideas to be of a priori authority o Moral instincts (“inductive”) based on perception/observation o Either way, morality determined factually from principles  Should be one or few basic moral laws to set precedent and resolve conflicting ideas  Any consistency in morality through history relies on implicit effect of actions on people’s happiness (principle of utility or greatest happiness principle) o Even if people ridicule this idea, essentially no one denies it o Kant states basis of moral obligation: “So act that the rule on which thou actest would admit of being adopted as a law by all rational beings.”  Mill: fails to show contradictions in his theory; only shows that universal use of Kantian ideas would not be practical or ever happen  Mill’s objective- give reasoning for/understanding of utilitarianism o “Questions of ultimate ends are not amenable to direct proof.” o Something that can be factually shown as good must be regarding something accepted as good without proof  Ex. Medical practice proven good as relating to health; music produces pleasure  Does not mean to use impulse to decide what is good without proof o Proof- “Considerations may be prese7ted capable of determining the intellect either to give or withhold its assent to the doctrine…”  Meaning of word hinders solving of many problems Works Cited 1“Summum bonum.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 25 August 2016. <>. 2Mill, John Stuart. “General Remarks.” Utiliarianism and the 1868 Speech on Capital Punishment. Second Ed. Hackett Publishing Company, 2001. 1-2. 3Mill, John Stuart. “General Remarks.” Utiliarianism and the 1868 Speech on Capital Punishment. Second Ed. Hackett Publishing Company, 2001. 2. 4 Mill, John Stuart. “General Remarks.” Utiliarianism and the 1868 Speech on Capital Punishment. Second Ed. Hackett Publishing Company, 2001. 2-3. 5 Mill, John Stuart. “General Remarks.” Utiliarianism and the 1868 Speech on Capital Punishment. Second Ed. Hackett Publishing Company, 2001. 3. 6Mill, John Stuart. “General Remarks.” Utiliarianism and the 1868 Speech on Capital Punishment. Second Ed. Hackett Publishing Company, 2001. 4. 7Mill, John Stuart. “General Remarks.” Utiliarianism and the 1868 Speech on Capital Punishment. Second Ed. Hackett Publishing Company, 2001. 4-5.


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