• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

I will be discussing John Stewart Mill theory on utilitarianism. Then I will point out an important objection the to his ethical theory. Then in conclusion I will compare and contrast the theory of utilitarianism to ethical vegetarianism.

Extracts from this document...


Utilitarianism I will be discussing John Stewart Mill theory on utilitarianism. Then I will point out an important objection the to his ethical theory. Then in conclusion I will compare and contrast the theory of utilitarianism to ethical vegetarianism. John Stewart Mill is the man most famous for using the utilitarianism view. It can be used to answer the practical question "What ought a man to do?" The utilitarian answer is to act in a manner to produce the best consequences possible for an action. This means that the moral worth of an action is determined by the action's consequences. So the view of utilitarianism is also the view of a consequentialist. One of the main views of utilitarianism is the greatest happiness view. Mill states "Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to promote the reverse of happiness." From this statement it should be clear that utilitarianism is a consequentialist view. The moral worth of an action, by whether it produces pleasure or pain, is determined by its consequence. Consequences of the utilitarian includes all of the good and bad produced by the action, whether happening after the action has been performed or during its performance. ...read more.


In conclusion there are three ways to maximize your overall happiness according to Mill. The first is overall happiness. You add up all the happiness in the word and then subtract the unhappiness. There will always be happiness in the world until unhappiness out weighs happiness. The second is average happiness. That is to have all the people in the world have the exact same amount of happiness as everyone else. The third is maximization of everyone's happiness to the fullest extent. Philosophers spend years trying to think of objections to views of the great philosophers. It would be hard for me to find a concrete objection to utilitarianism in a week. So the objection that I think is the most established is the "rule" utilitarianism. Think of the whole world lying and stealing to maximize happiness would have bad consequences. But it is not certain that an occasional lie to avoid embarrassment or an occasional theft form a rich man would not have good consequences, and would be acceptable or even required by utilitarianism. But the utilitarian would answer that the widespread practice of such acts would result in loss of trustworthiness and security to society. To meet the objection too not permit the occasional lie or theft would bring about the "rule" utilitarianism. ...read more.


There is evidence that humans do not need to eat fish to survive; generations and generations of vegetarians have proved this. So the argument must be that eating meat or animals makes people happier for the utilitarian maximizing their happiness. But for this to be a good happiness eating meat must make people happier than they would be not eating meat. And that there is no way that they can get the same benefit without something of lower cost giving a equal or greater happiness. Would the actions of humans eating animals bring about better consequences than leaving them be, with out taking their population out of equilibrium? That is where we have to weigh out the best possible action from a utilitarian view. Would it be morally correct to slaughter the animals for our own pleasure? The utilitarian would have to ask himself one question. Would he get more happiness out of eating meat or saving the lives of thousands of animals in his lifetime? I think that Mills utilitarian view is very strong. Everyone makes his or her decisions in life to be happy. When we come to a hard decision we should look at the consequences of each action and see which one will bring about the most happiness, that one will usually be the correct decision. 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. What are the Main Features of Utilitarianism as an Ethical Theory?

    The founder of utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832) said, "Nature has placed mankind under two sovereign masters, pleasure and pain". He went on to define utility as "any object, which produces benefit, advantage, pleasure, goodness or happiness or tends to counter act mischief, pain, evil or unhappiness".

  2. Explain Mills Version of Utilitarianism. Mills version of utilitarianism is morally unacceptable. Discuss.

    results would be judged equal to the result from an action done with good intentions. However, many utilitarian's would argue that utilitarianism applies not only to results, but also to desires and dispositions praise and blame, rules, institutions, and punishment.

  1. Examine how Benthams utilitarianism may be applied to one ethical issue of your choice. ...

    * The number of people affected (quantity). Bentham's comes back around the quantity of people, as he believed in the greatest good for greatest number. Therefore, if doing one act causes pleasure to 100 people whilst doing another causes pleasure to only 10, the first act is seen as morally correct.

  2. Kant's theory of Ethics

    The second formulation is known as 'The Formula of the End in Itself' 'So act as to treat humanity, whether in thine own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end withal, never as a means only' (Fundamental Principles, page 47)

  1. Examine the key features of utilitarianism and its strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism

    Another weakness of the utilitarian theory is the problem of special responsibilities and prima facie duty. You have a certain responsibility and duty to your family and the closest people around you. Generally you regard these people higher than say a complete stranger.

  2. Outline the main features of Utilitarianism andExamine critically criticisms that have been offered against ...

    greater number outweighed the pain felt by one prisoner and the quality of the happiness was not an issue. Mill argued that instead of the quantity of pleasure, it would be quality of pleasure which is more important.

  1. Examine the differences in ethical and Christian views concerning homosexuality

    He questions why people think they have the right to deny some human beings of their right to be homosexual and happy at the same time. However, Lord Devlin challenged this. He stated in his lecture on the reinforcement of morals, that homosexuality could damage our society's status and that allowing homosexuality to exist legally could jeopardize this.

  2. Explain the importance of good will in Kant's ethical theory.

    At the centre of this theory stands the belief that rational beings should always treat other rational beings equally and in the same way they would treat themselves as expressed in the second formulation. The second formulation makes people the end, and not the means.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work