PHIL 330 Atlanta Technical College Week 2 Utilitarianism Analysis Questions

Book Reference: Mill, J. S. (2002). Utilitarianism

Length requirement: a paragraph or two fully depending on the question.

Attached are a total of 25 reading comprehension practice questions for study guide material. All questions require a length of a paragraph fully explaining depending on the question in your own words. Ive copied and pasted the pages from the book.

1. Why would someone object that utilitarianism is a godless doctrine? (2123)
2. How does Mill respond to the objection that utilitarianism is a godless
doctrine? (21-23) Williams
3. Explain the objection that utilitarianism is a doctrine of
expediency. What is Mill’s response? (22-23)
4. Why would someone object that utilitarianism is flawed because there is
not time to calculate consequences? (23-26)
5. What is Mill’s response to the objection that there is no time to calculate
consequences before acting? (23-26)
6. Suppose Mill’s theory of utilitarianism is true. Should you sell all of your
non-necessary possessions and give the money to charity? Carefully
explain your answer. Pryor
7. Suppose Mill’s theory of utilitarianism is true. Should you cheat on the
final exam? Carefully explain your answer.
8. Suppose Mill’s theory of utilitarianism is true. Should you be an organ
donor? Carefully explain your answer.
9. Suppose Mill’s theory of utilitarianism is true. Should you eat meat?
Carefully explain your answer.
Chapter 4
10. What is the only thing desirable as an end? What does it mean to say that
something is desirable as an end? Carefully explain the difference
between desirable as a means and desirable as an end. (35)
11. To what purpose does Mill use a discussion of visible and audible in his
proof of hedonism? (35)
12. Mill has sometimes been criticized for equivocating with the word
‘desirable.’ In chapter 4, Mill is attempting to argue that happiness is
desirable as an end, and he uses ‘visible’ and ‘audible’ as
analogous. Why might someone suspect that he equivocates? What
meaning of the word is he using? (35)
14. How does Mill prove that the general happiness is desirable as an end?
16. What problem for Mill’s theory does virtue pose? (36-38)
17. What is Mill’s response to the problem posed by some people’s desire for
virtue for its own sake? (36-39)
19. According to Mill, what does Mill think it means to desire something? (39)
20. According to Mill, what is the best way to promote happiness? (38) Blaise
21. Discuss Mill’s view of money. How is it similar to his view of virtue? (3739) Arnold
22. Explain what Mill means when he says “Happiness is not an abstract idea
but a concrete whole.” (38)
23. What is Mill’s proof for the claim that no one desires anything as an end
except happiness? (36-41)
Book Reference: Mill, J. S. (2002). Utilitarianism
Length requirement: a paragraph or two to answer fully depending on the question.
Attached are a total of 25 reading comprehension practice questions for study guide material. All
questions require a length of a paragraph fully explaining depending on the question in your own words.
What Utilitarianism Is 23
as the cultivation in ourselves of a sensitive feeling on the subject of veracity is one of the most
useful, and the enfeeblement of that feeling one of the most hurtful, things to which our conduct
can be instrumental; and inasmuch as any, even unintentional, deviation from truth does that much
toward weakening the trustworthiness of human assertion, which is not only the principal support
of all present social well-being, but the insufficiency of which does more than any one thing that
can be named to keep back civilization, virtue, everything on which human happiness on the largest
scale depends—we feel that the violation, for a present advantage, of a rule of such transcendent
expediency is not expedient, and that he who, for the sake of convenience to himself or to some
other individ- ual, does what depends on him to deprive mankind of the good, and inflict upon them
the evil, involved in the greater or less reliance which they can place in each other’s word, acts the
part of one of their worst enemies. Yet that even this rule, sacred as it is, admits of possible
exceptions is acknowledged by all moralists; the chief of which is when the withholding of some
fact (as of information from a malefactor, or of bad news from a person dangerously ill) would save
an individual (especially an individual other than oneself) from great and unmerited evil, and when
the withholding can only be effected by denial. 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 recognized 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. Again, defenders of utility often find
themselves called upon to reply to such objections as this—that there is not time, previous to
action, for calculating and weighing the effects of any line of conduct on the general happiness.
This is exactly as if anyone were to say that it is impossible to guide our conduct by Christianity
because there is not time, on every occasion on which anything has to be done, to read through the
Old and New Testaments. The answer to the objection is that there has been ample time, namely,
the whole past duration of the human species. During all that time mankind have been learning by
experience the tendencies of actions; on which experience all the prudence as well as all the
morality of life are dependent. People talk as if the commencement of this course of experience had
hitherto been put off, and as if, at the moment when some man feels tempted to meddle with the
property or life of another, he had to begin considering for the first time whether murder and theft
are injurious to human happiness. Even then I do not think that he would find the question very
puzzling; but, at all events, the matter is now done to his hand. It is truly a whimsical supposition
that, if mankind were agreed in considering utility to be the test of morality, they would remain
without any agreement as to what is useful, and would take no measures for having their notions
on the subject taught to the young and enforced by law and opinion. There is no difficulty in proving
any ethical standard whatever to work ill if we suppose universal idiocy to be conjoined with it; but
on any hypothesis short of that, mankind must by this time have acquired positive beliefs as to the
effects of some actions on their happiness; and the beliefs which have thus come down are the
rules of morality for the multitude, and for the philosopher until he has succeeded in finding better.
That philosophers might easily do this, even now, on many subjects; that the received code of
ethics is by no means of divine right; and that mankind have still much to learn as to the effects of
actions on the general happiness, I admit or rather earnestly maintain. The corollaries from the
principle of utility, like the precepts of every practical art, admit of indefinite improvement, and, in a
progressive state of the human mind, their improvement is perpetually going on. But to consider
the rules of morality as improvable is one thing; to pass over the intermediate generalization
entirely and endeavor to test each individual action directly by the first principle is another. It is a
strange notion that the acknowledgment of a first principle is inconsistent with the admission of
secondary ones. To inform a traveler respecting the place of his ultimate destination is not to forbid
the use of landmarks and direction-posts on the way. The proposition that happiness is the end
and aim of morality does not mean that no road ought to be laid down to that goal, or that persons
going thither should not be advised to take one direction rather than another. Men really ought to
leave off talking a kind of nonsense on this subject, which they would neither talk nor listen to on
other matters of practical concernment. Nobody argues that the art of navigation is not founded on
astronomy because sailors cannot wait to calculate the Nautical Almanac. Being rational creatures,
they go to sea with it ready calculated; and all rational creatures go out upon the sea of life with
their minds made up on the common questions of right and wrong, as well as on many of the far
more difficult questions of wise and foolish. And this, as long as foresight is a human quality, it is to
be presumed they will continue to do. Whatever we adopt as the fundamental principle of morality,
we require subordinate principles to apply it by; the impossibility of doing without them, being
common to all systems, can afford no argument against any one in particular; but gravely to argue
as if no such secondary principles could be had, and as if mankind had remained till now, and
always must remain, without drawing any general conclusions from the experience of human life is
as high a pitch, I think, as absurdity has ever reached in philosophical controversy. The remainder
of the stock arguments against utilitarianism mostly consist in laying to its charge the common
infirmities of human nature, and the general difficulties which embarrass consci- entious persons
in shaping their course through life. We are told that a utilitarian will be apt to make his own
particular case an exception to moral rules, and, when under temptation, will see a utility in the
breach of a rule, greater than he will see in its obser- vance. But is utility the only creed which is
able to furnish us with excuses for evil-doing and means of cheating our own conscience? They are
afforded in abundance by all doctrines which recognize as a fact in morals the existence of
conflicting considerations, which all doctrines do that have been believed by sane persons. It is not
the fault of any creed, but of the complicated nature of human affairs, that rules of conduct cannot
be so framed as to require no exceptions, and that hardly any kind of action can safely be laid down
as either always obligatory or always condemnable. There is no ethical creed which does not
temper the rigidity of its laws by giving a certain latitude, under the moral responsibility of the
agent, for accommodation to peculiarities of circumstances; and under every creed, at the opening
thus made, self-deception and dishonest casuistry get in. There exists no moral system under
which there do not arise unequivocal cases of conflicting obligation. These are the real difficulties,
the knotty points both in the theory of ethics and in the conscientious guidance of personal
conduct. They are overcome practically, with greater or with less success, according to the intellect
and virtue of the individual; but it can hardly be pre- tended that anyone will be the less qualified for
dealing with them, from possessing an ultimate standard to which conflicting rights and duties can
be referred. If utility is the ultimate source of moral obligations, utility may be invoked to decide
between them when their demands are incompatible. Though the application of the standard may
be difficult, it is better than none at all; while in other systems, the moral laws all claiming
independent authority, there is no common umpire entitled to interfere between them; their claims
to precedence one over another rest on little better than sophistry, and, unless determined, as they
generally are, by the unacknowledged influence of consideration of utility, afford a free scope for
the action of personal desires and partialities. We must remember that only in these cases of
conflict between secondary principles is it requisite that first principles should be appealed to.
There is no case of moral obligation in which some secondary principle is not involved; and if only
one, there can seldom be any real doubt which one it is, in the mind of any person by whom the
principle itself is recognized.
CHAPTER IV Of What Sort of Proof the Principle of Utility Is Susceptible It has already been
remarked that questions of ultimate ends do not admit of proof, in the ordinary acceptation of the
term. To be incapable of proof by reasoning is common to all first principles, to the first premises of
our knowledge, as well as to those of our conduct. But the former, being matters of fact, may be the
subject of a direct appeal to the faculties which judge of fact—namely, our senses and our internal
consciousness. Can an appeal be made to the same faculties on questions of practical ends? Or by
what other faculty is cognizance taken of them? Questions about ends are, in other words,
questions what things are desirable. The utilitarian doctrine is that happiness is desirable, and the
only thing desirable, as an end; all other things being only desirable as means to that end. What
ought to be required of this doctrine, what conditions is it requisite that the doctrine should fulfill—
to make good its claim to be believed? The only proof capable of being given that an object is
visible is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible is that people hear it;
and so of the other sources of our experience. In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is
possible to produce that anything is desirable is that people do actually desire it. If the end which
the utilitarian doctrine proposes to itself were not, in theory and in practice, acknowledged to be an
end, nothing could ever convince any person that it was so. No reason can be given why the general
happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his
own happiness. This, however, being a fact, we have not only all the proof which the case admits of,
but all which it is possible to require, that happiness is a good: that each person’s happiness is a
good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons.
Happiness has made out its title as one of the ends of conduct and, consequently, one of the
criteria of morality. But it has not, by this alone, proved itself to be the sole criterion. To do that, it
would seem, by the same rule, necessary to show, not only that people desire happiness, but that
they never desire anything else. Now it is palpable that they do desire things which, in common
language, are decidedly distinguished from happiness. They desire, for example, virtue and the
absence of vice no less really than pleasure and the absence of pain. The desire of virtue is not as
universal, but it is as authentic a fact as the desire of happiness. And hence the opponents of the
utilitarian standard deem that they have a right to infer that there are other ends of human action
besides happiness, and that happiness is not the standard of approbation and disapprobation. But
does the utilitarian doctrine deny that people desire virtue, or maintain that virtue is not a thing to
be desired? The very reverse. It maintains not only that virtue is to be desired, but that it is to be
desired disinterestedly, for itself. Whatever may be the opinion of utilitarian moralists as to the
original conditions by which virtue is made virtue, however they may believe (as they do) that
actions and dispositions are only virtuous because they promote another end than virtue, yet this
being granted, and it having been decided, from considerations of this description, what is virtuous,
they not only place virtue at the very head of the things which are good as means to the ultimate
end, but they also recognize as a psychological fact the possibility of its being, to the individual, a
good in itself, without looking to any end beyond it; and hold that the 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. This opinion is not, in the smallest degree, a departure
from the happiness principle. The ingredients of happi- ness are very various, and each of them is
desirable in itself, and not merely when considered as swelling an aggregate. The principle of utility
does not mean that any given pleasure, as music, for instance, or any given exemption from pain,
as for example health, is to be looked upon as means to a collective something termed happiness,
and to be desired on that account. They are desired and desirable in and for themselves; besides
being means, they are a part of the end. Virtue, according to the utilitarian doctrine, is not naturally
and originally part of the end, but it is capable of becoming so; and in those who live it
disinterestedly it has become so, and is desired and cherished, not as a means to happiness, but as
a part of their happiness. To illustrate this further, we may remember that virtue is not the only
thing originally a means, and which if it were not a means to anything else would be and remain
indifferent, but which by association with what it is a means to comes to be desired for itself, and
that too with the utmost intensity. What, for example, shall we say of the love of money? There is
nothing originally more desirable about money than about any heap of glittering pebbles. Its worth
is solely that of the things which it will buy; the desires for other things than itself, which it is a
means of gratifying. Yet the love of money is not only one of the strongest moving forces of human
life, but money is, in many cases, desired in and for itself; the desire to possess it is often stronger
than the desire to use it, and goes on increasing when all the desires which point to ends beyond it,
to be compassed by it, are falling off. It may, then, be said truly that money is desired not for the
sake of an end, but as part of the end. From being a means to happiness, it has come to be itself a
principal ingredient of the individual’s conception of happiness. The same may be said of the
majority of the great objects of human life: power, for example, or fame, except that to each of these
there is a certain amount of immediate pleasure annexed, which has at least the semblance of
being naturally inherent in them—a thing which cannot be said of money. Still, however, the
strongest natural attrac- tion, both of power and of fame, is the immense aid they give to the
attainment of our other wishes; and it is the strong association thus generated between them and
all our objects of desire which gives to the direct desire of them the intensity it often assumes, so
as in some characters to surpass in strength all other desires. In these cases the means have
become a part of the end, and a more important part of it than any of the things which they are
means to. What was once desired as an instrument for the attainment of happiness has come to be
desired for its own sake. In being desired for its own sake it is, however, desired as part of
happiness. The person is made, or thinks he would be made, happy by its mere possession; and is
made unhappy by failure to obtain it. The desire of it is not a different thing from the desire of
happiness any more than the love of music or the desire of health. They are included in
happiness.They are some of the elements of which the desire of happiness is made up. Happiness
is not an abstract idea but a concrete whole; and these are some of its parts. And the utilitarian
standard sanctions and approves their being so. Life would be a poor thing, very ill provided with
sources of happiness, if there were not this provision of nature by which things originally
indifferent, but conducive to, or otherwise associated with, the satisfaction of our primitive desires,
become in themselves sources of pleasure more valuable than the primitive pleasures, both in
permanency, in the space of human existence that they are capable of covering, and even in
intensity. Virtue, according to the utilitarian conception, is a good of this description. There was no
original desire of it, or motive to it, save its conduciveness to pleasure, and especially to protection
from pain. But through the association thus formed it may be felt a good in itself, and desired as
such with as great intensity as any other good; and with this difference between it and the love of
money, of power, or of fame—that all of these may, and often do, render the individual noxious to
the other members of the society to which he belongs, whereas there is nothing which makes him
so much a blessing to them as the cultivation of the disinterested love of virtue. And consequently,
the utilitarian standard, while it tolerates and approves those other acquired desires, up to the point
beyond which they would be more injurious to the general happiness than promotive of it, enjoins
and requires the cultivation of the love of virtue up to the greatest strength possible, as being above
all things important to the general happiness. It results from the preceding considerations that
there is in reality nothing desired except happiness. Whatever is desired otherwise than as a means
to some end beyond itself, and ultimately to happi- ness, is desired as itself a part of happiness,
and is not desired for itself until it has become so. Those who desire virtue for its own sake desire it
either because the consciousness of it is a pleasure, or because the consciousness of being
without it is a pain, or for both reasons united; as in truth the pleasure and pain seldom exist
separately, but almost always together—the same person feeling pleasure in the degree of virtue
attained, and pain in not having attained more. If one of these gave him no pleasure, and the other
no pain, he would not love or desire virtue, or would desire it only for the other benefits which it
might produce to himself or to persons whom he cared for. We have now, then, an answer to the
question, of what sort of proof the principle of utility is susceptible. If the opinion which I have now
stated is psychologically true—if human nature is so constituted as to desire nothing which is not
either a part of happiness or a means of happiness—we can have no other proof, and we require no
other, that these are the only things desirable. If so, happiness is the sole end of human action, and
the promotion of it the test by which to judge of all human conduct; from whence it necessarily
follows that it must be the criterion of morality, since a part is included in the whole. And now to
decide whether this is really so, whether mankind do desire nothing for itself but that which is a
pleasure to them, or of which the absence is a pain, we have evidently arrived at a question of fact
and experience, dependent, like all similar ques- tions, upon evidence. It can only be determined by
practiced self- consciousness and self-observation, assisted by observation of others. I believe
that these sources of evidence, impartially consulted, will declare that desiring a thing and finding it
pleasant, aversion to it and thinking of it as painful, are phenomena entirely inseparable or, rather,
two parts of the same phenomenon—in strictness of language, two different modes of naming the
same psychological fact; that to think of an object as desirable (unless for the sake of its
consequences) and to think of it as pleasant are one and the same thing; and that to desire
anything except in proportion as the idea of it is pleasant is a physical and metaphysical
impossibility. So obvious does this appear to me that I expect it will hardly be disputed; and the
objection made will be, not that desire can possibly be directed to anything ultimately except
pleasure and exemption from pain, but that the will is a different thing from desire; that a person of
confirmed virtue or any other person whose purposes are fixed carries out his purposes without
any thought of the pleasure he has in contemplating them or expects to derive from their fulfillment, and persists in acting on them, even though these pleasures are much diminished by
changes in his character or decay of his passive sensibilities, or are outweighed by the pains which
the pursuit of the purposes may bring upon him. All this I fully admit and have stated it elsewhere
as positively and emphatically as anyone. Will, the active phenomenon, is a different thing from
desire, the state of passive sensibility, and, though originally an offshoot from it, may in time take
root and detach itself from the parent stock, so much so that in the case of a habitual purpose,
instead of willing the thing because we desire it, we often desire it only because we will it. This,
however, is but an instance of that familiar fact, the power of habit, and is nowise confined to the
case of virtuous actions. Many indiffer- ent things which men originally did from a motive of some
sort they continue to do from habit. Sometimes this is done unconsciously, the consciousness
coming only after the action; at other times with conscious volition, but volition which has become
habitual and is put in operation by the force of habit, in opposition perhaps to the deliberate
preference, as often happens with those who have contracted habits of vicious or hurtful
indulgence. Third and last comes the case in which the habitual act of will in the individual instance
is not in contradiction to the general intention prevailing at other times, but in fulfillment of it, as in
the case of the person of confirmed virtue and of all who pursue deliberately and consis- tently any
determinate end. The distinction between will and desire thus understood is an authentic and
highly important psychological fact; but the fact consists solely in this—that will, like all other parts
of our constitution, is amenable to habit, and that we may will from habit what we no longer desire
for itself, or desire only because we will it. It is not the less true that will, in the beginning, is entirely
produced by desire, including in that term the repelling influence of pain as well as the attractive
one of pleasure. Let us take into consideration no longer the person who has a confirmed will to do
right, but him in whom that virtuous will is still feeble, conquerable by temptation, and not to be
fully relied on; by what means can it be strengthened? How can the will to be virtuous, where it does
not exist in sufficient force, be implanted or awakened? Only by making the person desire virtue—by
making him think of it in a pleasurable light, or of its absence in a painful one. It is by associating
the doing right with pleasure, or the doing wrong with pain, or by eliciting and impressing and
bringing home to the person’s experi- ence the pleasure naturally involved in the one or the pain in
the other, that it is possible to call forth that will to be virtuous which, when confirmed, acts without
any thought of either pleasure or pain. Will is the child of desire, and passes out of the dominion of
its parent only to come under that of habit. That which is the result of habit affords no presumption
of being intrinsically good; and there would be no reason for wishing that the purpose of virtue
should become independent of pleasure and pain were it not that the influence of the pleasurable
and painful associations which prompt to virtue is not sufficiently to be depended on for unerring
constancy of action until it has acquired the support of habit. Both in feeling and in conduct, habit
is the only thing which imparts certainty; and it is because of the importance to others of being able
to rely absolutely on one’s feelings and conduct, and to oneself of being able to rely on one’s own,
that the will to do right ought to be cultivated into this habitual independence. In other words, this
state of the will is a means to good, not intrinsically a good; and does not contradict the doctrine
that nothing is a good to human beings but in so far as it is either itself pleasurable or a means of
attaining pleasure or averting pain. But if this doctrine be true, the principle of utility is proved.
Whether it is so or not must now be left to the consideration of the thoughtful reader.

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