Grote on Utilitarianism I

Henry Sidgwick

in Essays on Ethics and Method

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250234
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598432 | DOI:

Series: British Moral Philosophers

 Grote on Utilitarianism I

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In this chapter and the next, Sidgwick engages in a detailed analysis of the views of his teacher John Grote as presented in The Examination of the Utilitarian Philosophy. According to Sidgwick, Grote's work lacks those explicit principles and exact methods found in a systematic approach. Yet, it offers some valuable criticisms of Mill. The first criticism targets Mill's introduction of qualitative distinctions between pleasures, and holds that either this qualitative distinction must be resolvable into a quantitative one or pure utilitarianism is abandoned. The second challenges Mill's proof of utilitarianism, which states that all men seek pleasure, and we cannot conceive of ourselves as aiming at anything else. Grote's reply is that, although people do seek happiness, it does not follow that they ought to seek the happiness of others.

Keywords: John Grote; happiness; method; Mill; pleasure; Sidgwick; utilitarianism

Chapter.  1477 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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