John Stuart Mill by lola zoe adam georgia & calum

what is utilitarianism?

An ethical philosophy in which the happiness of the greatest number of people in the society is considered the greatest good. According to this philosophy, an action is morally right if its consequences lead to happiness (absence of pain), and wrong if it ends in unhappiness (pain).

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.

Since the link between actions and their happy or unhappy outcomes depends on the circumstances, no moral principle is absolute or necessary in itself under utilitarianism. Proposed by the English philosopher-reformer Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) in his 1789 book Principles Of Morals And Legislation it was developed by the English philosopher-economist John Stuart Mill (1806-73) in his 1863 book Utilitarianism.

JS Mill in 1870


Born in London on 20th May 1806.

In 1822, Mill was given a job in the examiners office of the East India Company, where his father also worked. He worked here for more than 30 years, eventually becoming head of his department.

At age of 21 suffered nervous breakdown, turned to poetry for consolation. He began to shape his own philosophical views.

In 1851 Married Harriet Taylor. Known each other for 20 years but only married after her first husband died. She died 7 years later.

Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of.

In the same year, following the Indian Mutiny, thüe East India company was dissolved and so without a job, Mill moved to Avignon in France.

He returned in 1865 when he was elected as member of parliament for Westminster. He was considered a radical in parliament because of his support for equality for women, compulsory education, birth control and land reform in Ireland.

He was prominent as a publicist in the reforming age of the 19th century, and remains of lasting interest as a logician and an ethical theorist.He then returned to France after not being re-elected in 1868. He spent his time studying and writing.

He died on the 7th May 1873.

Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.


For Mill, government didn't exist merely to promote and produce the maximum amount of pleasure, rather, government must continually seek to educate its citizens so that they pursue the higher, mental pleasures over the lower ones. In fact, he believed that it was the government’s responsibility, as well as an individual responsibility, to undertake moral education so that the result may be a good society.

JS Mill has been described as one of the most influential English-speaking philosophers of the 19th century and his ideas about freedom and liberty are still at the heart of political arguments today.

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