Review: Mill’s Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism

John Stuart Mill

How do you review a basic text of every undergraduate ethics course*? It seems silly.

“Utilitarianism – pretty decent if you’re into canonical texts of the western philosophyical tradition”

Look, if you want to be well read, you have to read this one, kids. You don’t have to like it, but you have to read it. I like Mill. I like the rigor and clarity of his writing and though not a perfect man he was way ahead of the curve on individual rights, and I’m pretty into individual rights.

A personal note: utilitarianism, as a personal philosophy, was very popular amongst my hyper practical fellow Brooklyn College* philosophy students. Anything that could be seen as a calculation designed to get maximum benefits for the maximum number of people resonated with them. Of course Utilitarianism can lead on to some awful conclusions (you know the drill, toss 100 babies in the ocean to save 101 babies for example), but those kind of arguments and the fact that, at base, utilitarianism isn’t really a ethical theory, but rather a prescription for running an orderly society and (perhaps) a precursor to fascism, didn’t bother most of my classmates. That it didn’t bother them drove my Kantian ethics professor up the fucking wall. That was amusing. It can be enlightening to read philosophy at 8 o’cocl at night on a Tuesday with a room full of grown-ups desperate for a degree and pay raise. Puts a unique spin on things.

 

*A personal note: I went to college, at night, at the City University of New York, in my late twenties.

Recommended.

Advertisements

About seanv2

Scholar, gentleman, jock. I run the website Milo and the Calf. There you will find the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire where runners share their stories of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. You'll also find my thoughts on endurance sports, ancient history, Judaism, and hundreds of book reviews.
This entry was posted in Books and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s