Utilitarianism and other essays contents

The attempt to rectify the perceived deficiencies of the Philosophic Radicals through engagement with other styles of thought began with Mill’s editing of a new journal, the London Review , founded by the two Mills and Charles Molesworth. Molesworth quickly bought out the old Westminster Review in 1834, to leave the new London and Westminster Review as the unopposed voice of the radicals. With James Mill’s death in 1836 and Bentham’s 1832 demise, Mill had more intellectual freedom. He used that freedom to forge a new “philosophic radicalism” that incorporated the insights of thinkers like Coleridge and Thomas Carlyle. ( Collected Works [ CW ], ). One of his principal goals was “to shew that there was a Radical philosophy, better and more complete than Bentham’s, while recognizing and incorporating all of Bentham’s which is permanently valuable.” ( CW , ).

It is important to note that Mill defines morality's purpose as bringing about a particular state of the world. This is one framework through which to understand morality, and Mill defines it as the essential one. It is important to think about whether this consequences-based understanding of morality is convincing. For example, consider something regarded as immoral, such as lying. Consider then a situation in which the telling of a lie could prevent five other people from having to lie. Is the first lie morally justified? The answer depends in part on whether one believes that morality's essential function is to bring about the "best," general state of the world, or whether its function is to govern individual acts independent of their more general consequences: if one believes that the point of morality is to create a better world as a whole, and if you accept that lying is bad, then the fewer total lies in the world the better, and one should tell that first lie to prevent the other five from being told. Other accounts of morality, however, might argue that bringing about the best state of the world at large is not morality's concern. For example, one could argue that morality bears most strongly upon the conduct of a single person as an individual: as an individual, one should never lie, no matter what; to lie is to defile oneself morally. There are many variations of this argument, as well as completely different ways to potentially ground morality: Mill's view of morality is only way of considering the question.

Utilitarianism and other essays contents

utilitarianism and other essays contents

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