Utilitarianism: Mill’s arguments About Happiness

free essayJ. S. Mill greatly contributed to the development of utilitarianism e by studying the issues of pleasures, their quantity and quality. With the help of these notions, the philosopher attempted to explain the consequentialism of human actions and confirm the validity of human desires and aspirations. he also argues that individual actions do not derive merely from the social rules and orders, but rather from universal searches for happiness as the highest good and indicator of morality. In order to prove this fact, the philosopher provides the solid arguments, pointing to the relations between the human desires, actions and actions towards the pleasures.

To start with, it is essential to mention that utilitarian theory distinguishes between good and wrong actions, according to their outcomes and consequences. In other words, the morality of every human action or thought can be valued based on its final results and implications. The philosopher amplifies this idea, stating that all human actions derive from the searches for maximum happiness. An average person can regard both an individual happiness and an absence of pain as the highest pleasure for a human. Since the individual happiness is good, the universal one can be also viewed from this standpoint (Mill, 2012). Moreover, such an opinion clearly shows that happiness is the indicator of morality of a single person and, respectively, the humanity, in general.

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J. S. Mill provides the following reasons in support of his theory. According to the philosopher, in their lives people desire nothing, but happiness. Even when people say they are looking for virtues, pleasures or other notions, they mean the mere components of the universal happiness. Since this notion is the only desirable thing, it reflects the human morality. As the latter cannot contradict to the good, happiness as the final desire serves as its main indicator and criterion.

Mills states that it is quiet easy to define the human desires. Thus, the proof that something is desirable consists in the fact that people actually want it very much (Mill, 2012). The human desires derive from their morality. In its turn, it is the indicator of the outlook, justice, social rules and individual interests. However, the common feature of morality is that it always searches for happiness as the final aim and aspiration. Therefore, it is possible to surmise that happiness is a good for all people, who desire happiness, in an equal manner.

Additionally, it is important to distinguish between wills and desires. Wills can derive from the habits or social rules, though they do not necessarily reflect the morality of people (Mill, 2012). However, happiness is a desire, which shows the genuine nature of human self and treatment of pleasures. Thus, being a desire, happiness cannot contribute to any wrong or evil actions and thoughts.

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All these reasons point to the fact that happiness is a universal good, as all individuals equally yearn to have it (Mill, 2012). If happiness were a prerogative of a few, it would be impossible to judge its relations to the human morality. However, its universal character witnesses about its unique role in the human lives and aspirations for pleasure. Correspondingly, J. S. Mill argues that individual searches for happiness define its universal nature of indicating the morality and virtues of the humanity.

From my point of view, Mill’s theory is successful, since it strongly assists in comprehending the nature of human morality and importance of happiness as the final aim of all desires. He thoroughly provides the arguments for treating happiness as the only desirable thing and leaves no doubts for the opposite conclusions (Mill, 2012). Thus, it is possible to assume that his idea clearly reveals the utilitarian nature of pleasures and desires, which derive from the morality, rather than social rules.

The critics of Mill’s idea can state that happiness of every single individual is quite subjective and relative. Since there are personal and social differences, the aim of desires and interpretation of pleasures and aspirations can also vary (Barrow, 2015). It means that one cannot measure morality by universal standards, since such a tendency violates the protection of human rights and diversities. Nevertheless, Mill responds to this argument, stating that one can view happiness as the only basis of morality, as it is the only desirable thing for all individuals, despite the social differences (Mill, 2012). Besides, J. S. Mill also states that theory of utility does not violate the human rights, but rather contributes to their comprehension. The matter is that searches for happiness as indicator of morality are the consequences of existence of human rights and their protection, within a social system.


To sum up, the utilitarian theory of J. S. Mill suggests treating happiness as the basic indicator of the morality. The philosopher explains that human morality comprises of all the virtues, desires and attitudes, typical for the individual outlook. Since all individuals are searching for happiness as the greatest desire and pleasure, it is easy to assume that it reflects their morality and ideology. The seeking for happiness is typical for the entire humanity, in general. Thus, if happiness is good for a single individual, it is also equally good for all humans. This idea has also found its support in the arguments, claiming that happiness is the only desirable thing, which is, simultaneously, the only reflection of the highest good.