Utility: An Impartial And Equitable Standpoint Essay, Research Paper
Utility: An Impartial and Equitable Standpoint
Mackey- Philosophy 318
Section Wednesday 12:00- 1:00
Phliosophy 318- Mackey
The foundation of Utility is based on John Stuart Mill’s notion that one must strive to act in such a way to produce the greatest good of the greatest number. Utility itself relies on the responsibility of the individual to remain impartial in his endeavor to produce the greatest good, looking past such extrinsic influences that may render the individual to seek a biased sense of satisfaction. In order for Utility to function as Mill wanted it to, honest judgment and objectivity must be an essential part of one’s drive for the acquisition of the greatest good.
In order for the insistence that equity and impartiality to hold true to Mill’s Utility, we must find a foundation from within his argumentation that will support it. Thus we turn to Mill’s sanctions, or incentives that he proposes to drive one towards the path of Utility. Mill’s first sanction, the internal sanction, leads one to act ethically because of the fear of displeasure that might arise from other people if one does not act in this manner. Mill justifies that individuals desire the warmness of others as an incentive to acting unselfishly in the attempt to acquire the greatest good, and fear the dissatisfaction of others. Mill’s second sanction, the internal sanction, is in essence an individual’s inner conscience. With the assumption that the conscience is pure and free from corruption, Mill implies that satisfaction is brought forth to the conscience when one successfully and ethically commits to one’s duties, the duty of Utility. What is undesired is the feeling of dissatisfaction that spawns when one does not act dutifully. In order for this rationale to make sense, one must do what is almost unavoidable when propositioning such an enormous concept such as the ethical standard of morality, and that is to presuppose, In almost all forms and interpretations of morality, there has been the presupposition that takes place to initialize the concept. Mill’s Utilitarianism presupposes that human beings do have a concept for general well being, and that is genuinely by nature good and willfully ethical. It is this generalization that spawns for these sanctions that he has addressed, and it is the role of the good nature of man that determines the worth of his actions. This is also the pivot in Mill’s mechanics that is probably most argued upon. Kant, Neibhor, and Plato would have had much to say on Mill’s assumption of the natural goodness of mankind and his given instinct to do good. If impartiality and equity are what good will and duty bring forth, Mill has provided a basis within utilitarianism that reinforces this.
Aside from distinct sanctions, many other aspects of Utility lead to the notion that impartiality and equity are set boldly within the framework of Mill’s interpretation. According to Mill, all people are, ethically speaking, equal in all situations. When considering the value of happiness from one individual to another, the issue is proposed to be a straight line representing the equality the value from individual to individual. One person’s happiness is just as important as another’s. With this in mind, there is no such reason to even consider a biased view on the distribution of happiness, for in the beholder’s eyes, it is nothing but equal. Utility also states that the greater number that acquires happiness is most desired, so there is no real reason to consider any other way to distribute it but evenly. A biased approach would prove inefficient, and with the concept in mind that Mill is only concerned with the results of ones actions, not the intention, it would only make sense to be impartial.
How is impartiality and equity in utility possible? First and foremost, are no ethical principles that are agreed on by everyone, but there is a distinct level of agreement as to what is right and what is wrong. Among the obvious are the notions that generosity, equality, and truthfulness are right, and this supports the presupposition that Mill makes about the good -nature of human morality. Thus impartiality and equity can be argued to pervade Utility. Second, the person who seeks to distribute happiness to only a certain group or type of people does not act in accord with the guidelines of Utility, which states the importance of one person’s happiness being just as important as another’s. This shows that Utility has no choice but to remain impartial and equal. Third, when one takes into consideration of being on the receiving end of the distribution of happiness, it would only make sense that he consider himself every bit entitled to the chunk that others are getting, which ties in with Mill’s extrinsic and internal sanctions. This shows that utility is desired to be impartial and equal.
At the beginning of Utility, Mill states that, “…The intuitive, no less than what maybe termed the inductive, school of ethics insists on the necessity of general laws.”. In accordance with this, the insistence that impartiality and equity lie within Utility relies on the framework of Utility itself, and the ability to remain consistent with the guidelines put forth by Mill. The laws of Utility base themselves on the equality of individuals and their rights to happiness. By maintaining a discipline that remains consistent with Mill’s laws, Utility remains consistent in dispersing happiness that is free of bias and partiality.
1.) Mill, John Stuart; Utilitarianism, Hackett Publishing Company, 1979