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John Stuart Mill, ‘Utilitarianism’ (1861)

John Stuart Mill, ‘Utilitarianism’ (1861)

John Stuart Mill, ‘Utilitarianism’ (1861)

1. What is the “Greatest Happiness Principle,” according to John Stuart Mill? How does he define the concept in his essay? (p.10).

(Answer the question in your own words. Also find examples in the text).

2. Also, in the reading, what does Mill think about Epicurus, Epicureans, and the “Epicurean life?”  What does he write about Epicurus’ concept of pleasure?  (p.10-11).

(Find examples in the text to support your answers).

3. How does Mill compare pleasures in the reading? What does he mean when he writes:

“If I am asked, what I mean by difference of quality in pleasures, or what makes one pleasure more valuable than another…there is but one possible answer.”

How does he answer his own question? (p.11).

(Again, find examples in the text).

4. Also, what does Mill mean by the following famous quote:

“It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides.”  (p.13).

(Answer the question in your own words, and find examples in the text to support your points).

5. What does Mill mean by the terms, “competent judges,” and “nobleness of character” in the essay? How do these terms relate to his ideas about happiness and utilitarianism? (13-14).

(Find examples in the text).

6. Finally, how might you apply Mill’s theory of Utilitarianism to the world today? Can you think of any examples that relate to ethics and society? How might his ideas relate to politics and human rights? Are they beneficial or not? Also, are there any potential problems with Mill’s theory? Please elaborate in your answer.


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