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Dissected and debated since its first appearance, the essay is Mill's key discussion on the topic and remains a fundamental text in the study of ethics.
Reissued here in its corrected second edition of 1864, this essay by John Stuart Mill argues for a utilitarian theory of morality.
Originally printed as a series of three articles in Fraser's Magazine in 1861, the work sought to refine the 'greatest happiness' principle that had been championed by Jeremy Bentham, defending it from common criticisms, and offering a justification of its validity.
Good will is the one thing in the world that is undeniably good.
Qualities of good fortune such as wealth and qualities of character such as intelligence can either be used for good or bad purposes.
Following Bentham, Mill holds that actions can be judged as right or wrong depending on whether they promote happiness or 'the reverse of happiness'.
Although attracted by Bentham's consequentialist framework based on empirical evidence rather than intuition, Mill separates happiness into 'higher' and 'lower' pleasures, arguing for a weighted system of measurement when making and judging decisions.He further states that the sentiment of justice is based on utility and human rights exists solely because they are necessary for human happiness.However, the theory of utilitarianism has been criticized for many reasons.Despite of this, he states that in the field of science certain truths still have meaning even if the principle behind them is not understood.However, in other fields such as ethics such truths or statements has very little validity.John Stuart Mill depicts the concept of utilitarianism as a philosophical theory with regard to doing what is right and wrong and how they result in happiness and being unhappy.Mills further defines happiness as the pleasure and absence of pain.Some of the reasons being that: the theory does not provide adequate protection for individual rights; happiness is more complex than it is depicted in the theory and not everything can be measured by the same standard.Mill stated that there is very minimal progress made in developing a set of standards of judging moral right and wrong.Mills also stated that things such as one’s achievement of goals should be considered as part of their happiness.John argues about utilitarianism with the sole aim of supporting the value of the theory as a moral theory.