chapter  9
42 Pages

Utilitarianism

Three cardinal features of Utilitarianism will occupy us in this chapter. First there is Mill’s conception of well-being, or human good-‘utility’; his claim that

all human ends are encompassed within happiness as ‘parts’ or ‘ingredients’, and his way of supporting that claim in its two aspects-that happiness is an ultimate end, and that all other human ends are valued either as means to or as ‘parts’ of happiness. Much in this is impressive and wise; but the second thesis, though defended with subtlety and depth, remains a central weakness in Mill’s philosophy. Admittedly, it makes little actual difference to his substantive ethical and political views, because his practical recognition of the diversity of human ends outweighs his notional adherence to the idea of them as all ‘ingredients of happiness’. But we shall see that it vitiates the substructure of his political philosophy at a strategic point.