John stuart mill


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John stuart mill

  1. 1. John Stuart Mill (1806 -1873) "One person with a belief is equal to ninety-nine who have only interests."
  2. 2. • John Stuart Mill was born in London on May 20, 1806, and was the eldest of son of James Mill. • He was educated entirely by his father, James Mill, and was deliberately shielded from association with other boys of his age. • From his earliest years, he was subjected to a rigid system of intellectual discipline. • As a result of this system, according to his own account, he believed this gave him an advantage of a quarter of a century over his contemporaries.
  3. 3. • Mill recognized, in later life, that his father's system had the fault of appealing to the intellect only and that the culture of his practical and emotional life had been neglected, while his physical health was probably undermined by the strenuous labor exacted from him. • James Mill's method seems to have been designed to make his son's mind a first-rate thinking machine, so that the boy might become a prophet of the utilitarian gospel. • He had no doubts at the outset of his career. On reading Bentham (this was when he was fifteen or sixteen) the feeling rushed upon him "that all previous moralists were superseded."
  4. 4. • He was already coming to be looked upon as a leader of thought when, in his twenty-first year, the mental crisis occurred which is described in his Autobiography. • This crisis was a result of the severe strain, physical and mental,to which he had been subjected from his earliest years • He was "in a dull state of nerves;" the objects of his life for which he had been trained and for which he had worked lost their charm; – He had "no delight in virtue, or the general good, but also just as little in anything else;" – A constant habit of analysis had dried up the fountains of feeling within him. – After many months of despair he found, accidentally, that the capacity for emotion was not dead, and "the cloud gradually drew off"
  5. 5. • Another important factor in his life was Mrs. Taylor, who coauthored pieces with him. He maintained a close relationship with her for many years while she was married. When her husband died, Mill married her in 1851. • His work in connection with the literary journals wasenormous. • He wrote articles almost without number and on an endless variety of subjects (philosophical, political, economic, social). • They began with The Westminster Review and extended to other magazines especially The London Review and, afterwards, The London and Westminster Review. • They were valuable as enabling us to trace the development of his opinions, the growth of his views in philosophy, and the gradual modification of his radicalism in politics
  6. 6. • But most important we are able to see his ETHICS – WE SHOULD ALWAYS PERFORM THE ACT WHICH BRINGS THE MOST HAPPINESS TO THE MOST PEOPLE "The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it." – RIGHT OR WRONG DEPEND ON THE NATURE OF THE ACT ORTHE RESULT OF THE ACT "A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury."
  7. 7. Utilitarianism • Is a school of thought identified with the writings ofJeremy Bentham and James Mill. • It advocates the principle and goal of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number". • Though admirable, its approach to achieving happiness was rather like a stimulus or response approach, focusing on the influence of pleasure and pain and the negative and positive associations created through praise and punishment. • Its approach in education was to form positive associations with actions for social good and negative associations with things socially hurtful.
  8. 8. • John Stuart Mill argues that moral theories are divided between two distinct approaches: – The intuitive and inductive schools. • Although both schools agree on the existence of a single and highest normative principle – (Being that actions are right if they tend to promote happiness and wrong if they tend to produce the reverse of happiness) • They disagree about whether we have knowledge of that principle intuitively, or inductively
  9. 9. • Mill defines "happiness" to be both intellectual and sensual pleasure. • He argues that we have a sense of dignity that makes us prefer intellectual pleasures to sensual ones. • He adds that the principle of utility involves assessing an action's consequences, and not the motives or character traits of the agent. • Mill argues that the principle of utility should be seen as a tool for generating secondary moral principles, which promote general happiness. • Thus most of our actions will be judged according to these secondary principles.
  10. 10. • He feels that we should appeal directly to the principle of utility itself only when faced with a moral dilemma between two secondary principles. • For example: – A moral principle of charity dictates that one should feed a starving neighbor – The moral principle of self-preservation dictates that one should feed oneself. • If one does not have enough food to do both, then one should determine whether general happiness would be better served by feeding my neighbour, or feeding oneself.
  11. 11. • Mill discusses our motivations to abide by the utilitarian standard of morality. • Man is not commonly motivated to specific acts such as to kill or steal, instead, we are motivated to promote general happiness. • Mill argues that there are two classes of motivations for promoting general happiness. – First, there are external motivations arising from our hope of pleasing and fear of displeasing God and other humans. – More importantly, there is a motivation internal to the agent, which is the feeling of duty.
  12. 12. • For Mill, this feeling of duty consists of an amalgamation of different feelings developed over time, such as: – – – – Sympathy, Religious feelings, Childhood recollections, and Self-worth • The binding force of our sense of duty is the experience of pain or remorse when one acts against these feelings by not promoting general happiness. • Mill argues that duty is subjective and develops with experience. • However, man has an instinctive feeling of unity, which guides the development of duty toward general happiness.
  13. 13. • Mill's proof for the principle of utility notes that no fundamental principle is capable of a direct proof. • Instead, the only way to prove that general happiness is desirable is to show man's desire for it. – His proof is as follows: – If X is the only thing desired, then X is the only thing that ought to be desired. • Thus if general happiness is the only thing desired, then general happiness is the only thing that ought to be desired. • Mill recognizes the controversiality of this and
  14. 14. • A critic might argue that besides happiness, there are other things, such as virtue, which we desire • Responding to this, Mill says that everything we desire becomes part of happiness • Thus, happiness becomes a complex phenomenon composed of many parts, such as: – Virtue – Love of money – Power, and – Fame
  15. 15. • Critics of utilitarianism argue that unlike the suppositions of utilitarianism, morality is not based on consequences of actions. • Instead, it is based on the fundamental concept of justice • Mill sees the concept of justice as a case for utilitarianism • Thus, he uses the concept of justice, explained in terms of utility, to address the main argument against utilitarianism • Mill offers two counter arguments
  16. 16. • First, he argues that social utility governs all moral elements in the notion of justice. • The two essential elements in the notion of justice are: – Punishment, and – The violation of another's rights • Punishment results from a combination of revenge and collective social sympathy • As a single entity, revenge has no moral component, and collective social sympathy is equal to social utility.
  17. 17. • Violation of rights is also derived from utility, as rights are claims that one has on society to protect us • So, social utility is the only reason society should protect us • Consequently, both elements of justice are based on utility • Mill's second argument is that if justice were foundational, then justice would not be ambiguous • According to Mill, there are disputes in the notion of justice when examining theories of punishment, fair distribution of wealth, and fair taxation • Only by appealing to utility can these disputes be resolved. Mill concludes that justice is a genuine concept, but it must be seen as based on utility :
  18. 18. • John Stuart Mill was the first person in the history of Parliament to call for women to be given the right to vote, vigorously defending this position in subsequent debate • He was a strong advocate of such social reforms as labour unions and farm cooperatives • In Considerations on Representative Government, Mill called for various reforms of Parliament and voting, especially proportional representation, the Single Transferable Vote, and the extension of suffrage. • He was godfather to the philosopher Bertrand Russell. • On his religious views, Mill was an atheist. • He died in 1873 of erysipelas, an acute streptococcus bacterial infection, also known as"St. Anthony's fire" in Avignon, France, where he was buried alongside his wife.
  19. 19. "Life has a certain flavor for those who have fought and risked all that the sheltered and protected can never experience." ~John Stuart Mill Life definitely had a certain flavor for John Stuart Mill.
  20. 20. REFERENCES: • An Introduction to Utilitarianism – Eugene Lee, University Scholars Program, National University of Singapore • • John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, George Sher Edt., Hacket, Indianapolis, 1979. • http:/
  21. 21. THE END!