Review Questions On Utilitarianism Set 1

Chapter I

1. In Chapter I Mill recommends that we proceed by looking for a test of right and wrong rather than a sense or faculty of morality. Why does he make this recommendation? What reasons does he give against appealing to moral faculties or sentiments?

Chapter II

2. In Chapter II Mill begins by taking on critics of utilitarianism and then by offering a corrected account of what it is that those who accept “the creed which accepts as the foundation of morals ‘utility’” actually believe. Give a detailed description of this corrected account.

3. Give and explain Mill’s somewhat lengthy “Epicurean” response to the objection that utilitarianism is “doctrine worthy only of swine”. How plausible do you find this response to the objection to be? Defend your answer.

4. Competent judges play an important role in Mill’s answer to the Epicurean objection, and in heading off another objection that he only barely mentions: the differential (“heterogeneous”) experiences of pleasure and pain had by individuals. Explain the role of competent judges in handling both these objections. Is this strategy successful for Mill? Why or why not?

5. After an interesting treatment of the paradoxical nature of happiness, Mill asserts that “[T]he happiness which forms the utilitarian standard of right in conduct is not the agent’s own happiness but that of all concerned. As between his own happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator.” Summarize the support that Mill gives for this assertion. What response to you think that Hume or Butler might make to this statement of Mill’s?

Chapter III

6. In giving his account of why persons have to obey the moral law, Mill describes both external and internal sanctions. Describe each kind of sanction. Where does conscience fit into this picture for Mill? Compare and contrast Mill’s account of the role and nature of conscience with that given by Butler.

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