Utilitarianism as defined by John Mill is a theory that is based on the principles that stipulate,“One’s actions are correct in proportion to their tendency of promoting happiness and wrong if they tend to result into sadness.” According to John Stuart Mill,happiness is the lack of pain and a state of pleasure. He claims that pleasure can vary in quantity and quality. He adds that the pleasures that are implanted in someone’s upper faculties should be treated with increased weight than the lower pleasures. Mill says that people’s accomplishment of ends and goals, for example, virtuous living should be considered as part of their happiness. Mill postulates that utilitarianism matches the “natural” feelings that emanates from the social nature of human beings. Hence if the society is to acknowledge utilitarianism as an ethic, an individual would internalize the standards as morally binding naturally.Mill reasons that happiness is the sole foundation of morality, and that everyone’s desires to be happy. He clarifies that rights exist solely because they are important for human happiness, and that the feeling of justice is dependent on utility.
In his essay “Utilitarianism”, Mill tries to differentiate lower pleasure and higher pleasure. Probably the higher pleasures are commonly intellectual pleasures while lower pleasures are in general sense physical pleasures. He says that a good with a large magnitude leads to the production of a greater pleasure. From the usual perspective of human thinking, it clearly seems that one maximizes his pleasure by seeking the best drink, sex, food and many other physical needs. However, Mill responds to this misconception with the point that there should be instead a category of pleasure called higher pleasure. This would mean that the acts of watching a good play, reading a good novel and other edifying pleasures would be extra superior and would surpass sleep, sex, drink and food.
There are very many objections to utilitarianisms that have been put forward by critics. Mill terms such critics as misconceptions of his theory and declares them as obvious wrongs. However strongly Mill tries to justify the perfection of his theory, people still believe that his theory is based on evil premises that are ungodly. Many people usually term it as a godless doctrine. The main reasoning is that its foundations are rooted on the happiness of humankind and not on the solemn will of the almighty God. Christian holy scriptures indicate that the heart of man is full of evil, and if man is to be left to pursue his own happiness then his actions would be contrary to the teachings of God and His desire for man. Mill in response to the objection he argues that if God has a desire to have all his creatures happy, then the theory of utilitarianism is the most Christian and godly theory ever made. Christian believers say that the theory has a weakness as it does not regulate the source of happiness. It, therefore, encourages people to do anything in pursuit of their happiness. This makes many people commit actions that are contrary to the will of God.
The believers in the doctrine of utilitarianism have often given some adequate responses to the objections brought forth by none-utilitarian. I believe that Mill and his followers can offer an adequate response to the objection that their doctrine is ungodly. Th reason for this is mainly that they believe that the foundations of their doctrine are supported by the beliefs of the church. They believe that in implementing their doctrines they are fully furthering the will of God in a way. Their theory promotes self-happiness of individuals and the Christians believe that God wills for happiness for his people.Then the utilitarian argument perfectly concurs with religion. The golden rule of the son of God, Jesus Christ completes the ethics of utility. The Christian principle of, do unto others as you expect them to do unto you and love your fellow as to love your own self,forms a portion of the perfection of the morality of utilitarian. A utilitarian argues and believes that the truths that God reveals concerning morality will complement their principles. The fact that many moralists, not only utilitarian, agree to the idea that there is a need for an ethical doctrine that should be carefully followed so as to understand Gods will is enough evidence that with time many Christians critic will accept utilitarianism as a complimentary theory to religious principles and doctrines. Hence the objection that utilitarianism is a godless doctrine shall be a forgone case.
Most of the arguments that Mill makes in response to the objections against his theory are very controversial. It is important to closely look at his assumptions and arguments. There could be no right or wrong answer, but it is necessary to keenly review the most commonly attacked arguments. According to Mill, his theory emphasizes on increasing the general happiness state of the society without appreciating the importance of the individual happiness. In handling this argument, one should consider the massive difference in perspective. He uses the impersonal perspective. Here morality is impartial while others could argue that it should be interpersonal or subject oriented.
Overall, this theory of utilitarianism remains to be a very moral and robust theory. It is a principle that supports actions that seem to result to ultimate happiness is greatly portrayed when making our daily moral decisions in life. Some of the objections against this theory can be satisfactorily answered, and the more problematic objections can also be countered in different ways. It is true that leisure can be incorporated into the moral human rules hence answering the “no-rest” objection. The responses to the justice objection are two: one of integration and the other of defeat. According to me the response of defeat that stipulates that justice can be overridden isn’t satisfying as justice should be an essential good that is important for human to thrive. The approach to justice objection that is conciliatory aims at integrating justice within the higher level guidelines.This utilitarian position is very credible. It inculcates the importance of justice in the moral reasoning of man and supports and also legitimates the theory of utilitarianism as a moral one without sacrificing the fundamentals of utility nor consequentialism.
Pojman, Louis P. Ethics: discovering right and wrong. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Pub. Co., 1990. Print.