University of Pittsburgh, Fall Term 1998
Ben Eggleston, Instructor
Philosophy 0300—CRN 35193: Introduction to Ethics
mailbox: CL 1001—office: CL 1428E
Thursdays, 5:45 p.m. to 8:10 p.m., in CL 142
office hours: Tuesdays, 5:15–6:15, and Thursdays, 4:40–5:40

Mill, Utilitarianism

I. Background Information

John Stuart Mill was born in England in 1806 and received an intense education from his father, James Mill. After a depression in his early twenties (which he says the work of Coleridge and Wordsworth helped him to escape), he embarked on a career that would include commercial success and also literary fame as one of the best essayists of the nineteenth century. He published On Liberty in 1859, and Utilitarianism in 1861. He was elected to Parliament in 1865, but his attempt in 1867 to give women the right to vote was defeated, and Mill lost his seat in 1868. He died in France in 1873.

for November 5:

II. Reading Assignment

III. Study Questions

  1. What does Mill say about Kant’s ethical theory in order to defend his claim that even in that theory, “utilitarian arguments are indispensable”?
  2. What is the Greatest Happiness Principle?
  3. According to Mill, what makes one pleasure more valuable than another?
  4. How does Mill answer the a objection that “there is not time, previous to action, for calculating and weighing the effects of any line of conduct on the general happiness”?

for November 12:

IV. Reading Assignment

for November 19:

V. Reading Assignment