Ethical Theory: Utilitarianism
Mill’s more important contributions to ethics occur in Utilitarianism (1863, from Fraser’s Magazine, 1861), Bentham (1838), Coleridge (1840), Dr Whewell on Moral Philosophy (1852), Professor Sedgwick’s Discourse on the Studies of the University of Cambridge (1835), and in the brief discussion in the System of Logic, bk VI, chap. 12. Although he was concerned to reject Intuitionism, and although in the Logic he noted some differences between ordinary factual statements and statements concerning obligations, Mill did not develop a meta-ethic, his major concern being, in spite of a brief, qualified anti-Benthamite period, to state and defend a utilitarian normative ethic. Estimates of the value of Mill’s contributions here have varied greatly, G. E. Moore observing that ‘This [Utilitarianism] is a book which contains an admirably clear and fair discussion of many ethical principles and methods’ (Principia Ethica, p. 64), while more recently J. Plamenatz has expressed a much less favourable, although also widely accepted, estimate.
KeywordsMoral Rule Great Happiness General Happiness Utilitarian Ethic Rule Utilitarianism
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