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Philosophy Study Guide for Exam 1

1. Describe Mill's Theory of the good and assess whether or not it is adequate. Include the following points:

a. According to Mill, the only thing valuable, the only thing that makes human life worthwhile is happiness (pleasure, absence of pain), in general, not per individual. This applies to everyone, all of sentient creation, because animals can feel pleasure and pain too.

b. The fist objection states that, this is "a doctrine only worthy of swine." This means that if we determine what action to take based solely on promoting happiness, or pleasures that we will be we just as bad as beasts, or lower animals. This may look like a big problem for Mill's theory of the good because it seems as if there isn't much more that makes human life valuable than the mere pleasures of say eating, drinking, sexÐ'... But this objection has too narrow an understanding of pleasure.

c. Mill's responds to this objection by saying that the pleasures of knowledge, creativity, emotions, the arts, relationships, and spirituality, should also be included. These "higher" pleasures are generally recommended (by utilitarianists) over the sensory pleasures, since they are more pure (don't tend to produce pain later) and more found (tend to keep producing more pleasure later). So overall, these "higher" pleasures are a greater quantity of pleasure overall.

i. Mill's also states that the pleasures of knowledge, creativity, etc. are also of higher quality. He comes to this conclusion through the logic that: whatever people who have completely experienced two kinds of pleasures (sensory and aesthetic), whichever kind they consistently choose is the one which is the higher pleasure. These people would consistently choose the aesthetic pleasures, so therefore those must be of higher quality.

ii. This second part of Mill's response is not completely accurate. Suppose that perhaps people would choose one type of pleasures consistently not because they see it to be of higher quality, but for another reason. It may be physically addictive, they may be psychologically driven to it by upbringing, or you may see it as prestigious, etc. Also, we can't be so sure that people would consistently choose the aesthetic pleasures over sensory pleasures. Things such as the traumas of full knowledge may lead someone to prefer a simple sensory pleasure such as drinking wine.

d. Even if we allow Ð''higher' and Ð''lower' pleasures both to play a role in the theory of the good, Mill has left something out that makes human life worthwhile Ð'- it's not just pleasures (of whatever sort) that are valuable. If we consider the virtual reality machine example, which simulates pleasures, we are still missing what's valuable, like things such as control, really living a genuine existence, achievement, and truly deserving what you get; Mill's Theory of the Good is not completely acceptable for this reason. This may have implications about the theory of utilitarianism in general also not being completely acceptable because there are a lot of other candidates for goods other than pleasures.

2. Describe Mill's Theory of the right and assess whether or not it is acceptable. Include the following points:

a. The utilitarian theory of the right states that acts are right in proportion as they tend to promote the good.

b. Some people have objected that utilitarianism's theory of the right conflicts with justice. For example, suppose you wanted to stay out past your curfew because you wanted to go to an unsupervised party that you know your parents would never allow you to go to. Utilitarianism would tell us that we should lie to our parents about where we are going to avoid getting ourselves in trouble and causing our parents worry.

i. Mill would respond by saying that this is not true and we should not lie. When we weigh in the longer term harm: to ourselves, to those we lie to, and also the damage done to the general trust on which all of human society's well-being relies, we can see that lies like this ultimately cause more pain than pleasure. But if this lie was never discovered, then it wouldn't cause any pain and then it would be right to make this lie.

c. Utilitarianism may also conflict with fairness. For example, if we look at a simple situation like a mother of three children who is deciding what to cook for dinner. Since child one doesn't eat red meat, if she choose to cook steak then child one will be hungry till morning. But child two absolutely loves steak, and will be extremely happy if she chooses to make this, while child three is rather indifferent and will be satisfied with whatever she decides to make. If she chooses to make pasta, then all three children will eat it, but none will be overly excited. In this case, utilitarianism tells us that the mother should make steak for dinner because that would generate the most happiness (in accordance with utilitarian points). But this seems intuitively to conflict with fairness.

i. Mill's would reply by saying that society does not really distribute happiness, rather we distribute goods (e.g., money) which generate happiness in people who have them. The law of diminishing marginal utility tells us that goods produce more happiness in those who have few of them than. For example, if you give $ 1,000 to Bill Gates, he won't even notice; if you give them to me, I'll be ecstatic. Hence, other things being equal, people in need should be satisfied before people with no need.

d. I believe that Mill's response to the justice example is inadequate because if even if



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