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

Paper Assignment no. 2

Choose one of the following topics (or think of another topic and get me to approve it) and respond to it in a paper of about 6 pages. Your paper should make ample use of the relevant text, not only representing the author’s views accurately, but also citing and interpreting specific passages where appropriate. It should also go into as much depth and detail as a paper of this length can. Finally, your paper should conform to the instructions provided in “Guidelines for Writing a Philosophy Paper.” It will be due at the beginning of class on November 19.

  1. How can Brave New World be read as a criticism of utilitarianism, and how can Mill’s book Utilitarianism—especially chapter 2, in which Mill distinguishes among pleasures according to quality as well as according to quantity—be read as a reply to the concerns raised by Huxley? Is Mill’s reply successful?
  2. A distinctive feature of Mill’s version of utilitarianism is his distinction among pleasures according to quality as well as according to quantity. Why does Mill think that utilitarianism is made more defensible when this distinction is included? Does the introduction of this distinction create problems for Mill, given his commitment to the view that “pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things desirable as ends” (II.2)? If so, would Mill concede that utilitarianism is doomed, or would he maintain that utilitarianism can be defended without this distinction? Is Mill right about this?