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Utilitarianism


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An essay by J. S. Mill, first published in a series of articles in Fraser's Magazine in 1861, in book form 1863. The term ‘utilitarian’ was first adopted by Mill in 1823, from Galt's Annals of the Parish. In this work, Mill, while accepting the Benthamite principle (see Bentham) that Utility, or the greatest happiness of the greatest number, is the foundation of morals, departs from it by maintaining that pleasures differ in kind or quality as well as in quantity, ‘that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others’; also by recognizing in ‘the conscientious feelings of mankind’ an ‘internal sanction’ to be added to Bentham's ‘external sanctions’. ‘The social feelings of mankind, the desire to be in unity with our fellow creatures’ constitute ‘the ultimate sanction of the greatest happiness, morality’.

Subjects: Literature.


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John Stuart Mill (1806—1873) philosopher, economist, and advocate of women's rights


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