System, VII: This is not to deny the role of hypothesis in investigation altogether, however. Under this assumption, the critics argue, there can be no evaluative basis for the distinction between higher and lower pleasures. Similarly, Mill thinks that the preferences of competent judges are not arbitrary, but principled, reflecting a sense of the value of the higher capacities. Any act is right iff and because it is optimal to apply sanctions to its omission the indirect claim.
He repeats this point in his System of Logic and Utilitarianism: [T]he mind is not in a right state, not in a state conformable to Utility, not in the state most conducive to the general happiness, unless it does love virtue in this manner - as a thing desirable in itself, even although, in the individual instance, it should not produce those other desirable consequences which it tends to produce, and on account of which it is held to be virtue. He states: I agree with you that the right way of testing actions by their consequences, is to test them by their natural consequences of the particular actions, and not by those which would follow if everyone did the same. As a rule, only when such second-tier principles conflict is it necessary or wise to appeal to the principle of utility directly.
If one follows this interpretation, then world Y is better than world X because in this world absolute and relative measurements suggest that more humans have fulfilled lives. Far from undermining utilitarian first principles, Mill thinks, appeal to the importance of such moral principles actually provides support for utilitarianism.
After this Mill turns to the question concerning moral motivation "Of the Ultimate Sanction of the Principle of Utility". Mill sees no suggestion that is plausible or which has been met with general acceptance. But experience teaches us that our judgments regarding just punishments, just tax laws or just remuneration for waged labor are anything but unanimous. In The Subjection of Women, Mill caustically criticizes the moral intuitions of his contemporaries regarding the role of women.
He does not say precisely what standard of expediency he has in mind. A being of higher faculties requires more to make him happy, is capable probably of more acute suffering, and certainly accessible to it at more points, than one of an inferior type; but in spite of these liabilities, he can never really wish to sink into what he feels to be a lower grade of existence. There is one crucial difficulty with the interpretation of Mill as an indirect act utilitarian regarding moral obligation. Another is the question as to whether it would facilitate happiness to educate humans such that they would have the disposition to maximize situational utility.
II 6; emphasis added Here Mill is identifying the higher pleasures with activities and pursuits that exercise our higher capacities. But such objects are not—at least not obviously—natural entities.
Poverty, in any sense implying suffering, may be completely extinguished by the wisdom of society, combined with the good sense and providence of individuals. Freedom of Will In various places of his work John Stuart Mill occupied himself with the question of the freedom of the human will. And there needs be the less hesitation to accept this judgment respecting the quality of pleasures, since there is no other tribunal to be referred to even on the question of quantity. A similar consideration is found in the Whewell essay. System, VII: , my emphasis 3. He maintains that we name a type of action morally wrong if we think that it should be sanctioned either through formal punishment, public disapproval external sanctions or through a bad conscience internal sanctions.
Because actions follow from the character and one is not responsible for this, it is not just to punish people for the violation of norm which they could not help violating. The tacit influence of the principle of utility made sure that a considerable part of the moral code of our society is justified promotes general well-being. Rights breed perfect obligations, says Mill. Gradually, sympathy becomes more inclusive. Fumerton —8.
But he appears to think that these other-regarding pleasures can move us only insofar as we take pleasure in the pleasure of others V
He claims to be arguing that what the quantitative hedonist finds extrinsically more valuable is also intrinsically more valuable II 4, 7. A similar consideration is found in the Whewell essay. But in order that the exception may not extend itself beyond the need, and may have the least possible effect in weakening reliance on veracity, it ought to be recognised, and, if possible, its limits defined; and if the principle of utility is good for anything, it must be good for weighing these conflicting utilities against one another, and marking out the region within which one or the other preponderates.
Later, Mill distinguishes between genuine harm and mere offense.