Explain, reconstruct, and evaluate John Stuart Mill’s argument claiming that (1) we cannot only quantify pleasures, but can qualify them as well (higher and lower pleasures); and (2) that anyone knowledgeable with both kinds of pleasures would always prefer the higher pleasures over the lower ones (you will these arguments in pp. 10-14). Deal with the two arguments separately, even though they are obviously related. Use either Mill’s examples or your own to show the distinction between higher and lower pleasures and Mill’s claim that they are different in kind, not just in the amount of pleasure. Next, reconstruct Mill’s argument which claims that a person sufficiently knowledgeable with respect to both pleasures would always choose the higher pleasure (here Mill takes on several objections to this claim, and you should include those in your paper). Next, evaluate both arguments. Are Mill’s arguments for (1) and (2) valid and/or sound or neither? Why or why not? Make sure you provide evidence for your argument Use plenty of concrete examples!
Papers must be 5-6 pages long Word Documents(1250-1500 words), 12” font, typed, double spaced, with 1”margins all around, and properly footnoted. All papers will be checked for possible plagiarism. NOTE: You are only allowed to use the material provided by the professor: No other sources are acceptable.
(Answer needs to come solely from the files uploaded) (NO NEW SOURCES, however, footnotes must be used)Mill and Utilitarianism
Mill’s Salient Propositions and Commentary
1. Actions are morally right if they tend to promote happiness
2. Actions are morally wrong if they tend to promote the reverse of happiness (unhappiness, evil)
Consequentialism: Another way to state these principles is to say that only the consequences of one’s actions are morally important; intentions or the past are morally irrelevant.
e.g. If I try to save a child from a burning building but fail, then my action was morally wrong since it did not promote happiness
e.g. If I promise to take my niece to the movies, but instead go out with my friends drinking, then this might be morally right if my action has promoted more happiness than it would have had I taken my niece to the movies.
Objections to Consequentialism
3. The definition of happiness is pleasure or the absence of pain
4. The definition of unhappiness is pain or privation of pleasure
Happiness is simply defined as pleasure and unhappiness as pain. Notice that Mill has not defined pleasure yet so we do not know if it’s a feeling or some sort of psychological state
5. Pleasure and the freedom from pain are the only things desirable as ends
Nothing else in life is worth pursuing except pleasure or the absence of pain. If you pursue honor, knowledge, wealth, or anything else you are wasting your time, unless these are means for you to achieve pleasure.
6. All desirable things are either intrinsically desirable (for their own sake) or extrinsically desirable (for the sake of something else)
7. Pleasures are distinguishable not only by quantity but also by quality (some pleasures are qualitatively superior to other pleasures)
This is Mill’s attempt to answer the following objection: Utilitarianism is not a plausible theory of morality or life since there is obviously more to life than pursuing pleasure. No moral theory should be supported which is consistent with us eating, drinking, having sex, etc. But this is what this theory does since all of those activities bring us pleasure. But non-human animals also engage in these things, so the theory is the same theory that is applicable, let’s say, a swine or a dog.
8. Human beings have more elevated faculties than animals
This is Mill’s attempt to argue that since human beings are capable of cognitive pleasures like reading, solving problems, listening to music, etc., then such “higher”pleasures are supposed to be pursued instead of “low” “animalistic” pleasures.
9. The fulfillment of more elevated faculties is more pleasurable than the fulfillment of lower faculties
This is one of the most controversial claim by Mill. Mill is, in essence, claiming that cognitive pleasures are always more satisfying than bodily pleasures.
e.g. If one compares having, let us say, sex or good food to solving problems or reading, then the last two are always to be preferred.
10. Any pleasure is qualitatively superior to another pleasuSuggestions for Writing an Academic Paper
1. Introduction: In the introduction you should explain a problem you are trying to solve, how you are going to solve it, and what is your procedure for solving it.[footnoteRef:1] [1: Searle, audio1. ]
A. Thesis: Make sure you have a clear thesis which argues for a certain, distinctive conclusion. It should be incorporated into your introduction and should be only one sentence.[footnoteRef:2] [2: Searle, audio2. ]
B. Methodology: Explain your method of procedure, what you are going to do first, second, third, and so on.
2. Paragraphs: Paragraphs are a way to separate your distinct thoughts. A paragraph should only contain a single thought, no more. This doesn’t mean that your paragraph should only be one sentence; in fact it should be at least five to six sentences elaborating on the thought you are expressing.
3. Body of the paper: Use Roman numerals to divide the body of your paper into distinct themes. Also, label your sections with names that indicate what you are going to talk about in that section. In addition to this, use named subsections in the body of your paper as needed, to indicate distinct themes within a theme.
A. Make sure that each of your sections or subsections provide support for you thesis. Don’t assume that the reader will be able to figure out what you are talking about in each section. You ought to tell the reader exactly how your sections support your overall thesis.
B. Ask yourself how you should organize yours sections, i.e. which section should begin the defense of your thesis, what should come afterwards, etc. It is important to discuss the issues in your paper in proper order.
4. Evaluation. This is the part of the paper where you defend your thesis. This is determined by whether you think the objections you have presented in your paper to the theory you have presented are enough, in your mind, to refute the theory or not.[footnoteRef:3] [3: Sober, Elliott. ]
5. Conclusion: You should always have a section in your paper which you label as “Conclusion” in which you recapitulate what you think you have accomplished in your paper. In addition, the conclusion is used to indicate the potential implications of your argument. [footnoteRef:4] [4: Ibid., p. 3. ]
6. Plagiarism: If you use another writer’s words or thoughts without her consent, you are guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism is a form of cheating and lying, and usually punished in the academic context with a failing grade for the course, or an academic suspension.
7. Citations: In general you should use either footnotes or endnotes for you citations. You must give credit for any thoughts which are not yours, whether you are using direct quotations or merely paraphrasing someone else’s thoughts. If you are not sure whether to give credit for someone else or not, it’s best to do so. Also, you should only use reputable sources for you information, not just google the topicUtilitarianism
John Stuart Mill
Batoche Books Limited
52 Eby Street South
Chapter 1: General Remarks. ……………………………………………………. 5
Chapter 2: What Utilitarianism Is. …………………………………………….. 9
Chapter 3: Of the Ultimate Sanction of the Principle of Utility. …… 27
Chapter 4: Of what sort of Proof the Principle of Utility is Suscep-
tible. ………………………………………………………………………………. 35
Chapter 5: On the Connection between Justice and Utility. …………. 41
Notes …………………………………………………………………………………… 62
There are few circumstances among those which make up the present
condition of human knowledge, more unlike what might have been ex-
pected, or more significant of the backward state in which speculation
on the most important subjects still lingers, than the little progress which
has been made in the decision of the controversy respecting the criterion
of right and wrong. From the dawn of philosophy, the question concern-
ing the summum bonum, or, what is the same thing, concerning the
foundation of morality, has been accounted the main problem in specu-
lative thought, has occupied the most gifted intellects, and divided them
into sects and schools, carrying on a vigorous warfare against one an-
other. And after more than two thousand years the same discussions
continue, philosophers are still ranged under the same contending ban-
ners, and neither thinkers nor mankind at large seem nearer to being
unanimous on the subject, than when the youth Socrates listened to the
old Protagoras, and asserted (if Plato’s dialogue be grounded on a real
conversation) the theory of utilitarianism against the popular morality
of the so-called sophist.
It is true that similar confusion and uncertainty, and in some cases
similar discordance, exist respecting the first principles of all the sci-
ences, not excepting that which is deemed the most certain of them,
mathematics; without much impairing, generally indeed without impair-
ing at all, the trustworthiness of the conclusions of those sciences. An
apparent anomaly, the explanation of which is, that the detailed doc-
trines of a science are not usually deduced from, nor depend for their
evidence upon, what are called its first principles. Were it not so, there
would be no science more precarious, or whose conclusions were more
6/John Stuart Mill
insufficiently made out, than algebra; which derives none of its cer-
tainty from what are commonly taught to learners as its elements, since
these, as laid down by some of its most eminent teachers, are as full of
fictions as English law, and of mysteries as theology. The truths which
are ultimately accepted as the first principles of a science, a1
Dualism and the Mind/Body Problem
In the philosophy of mind, one of the most contested topics is that of the mind/body problem. This concept has to do with the relationship between the mental and the physical. When I say the word physical, I am talking about things that can be explained using our senses, for example a chair. I can describe the way a chair looks, its color and shape, when I see it. I can describe the way it sounds when I sit on it, and the way it feels when I touch it. I could go on to describe its smell and taste as well. I could use my senses to describe a table, a ball, an orange, a flower, and nearly all other physical objects, but it would sound very weird if I were to try and apply them to mental objects. A mental object can be anything from the mind and beliefs and desires, to emotions and sensations. If I were to say “This desire feels soft” or “My mind smells like peaches” you would think I was making no sense. It is clear that we have a mind that contains our beliefs, desires, sensations, and emotions. It is also clear that we have a brain; a physical thing made of tissue containing billions of neurons. These differing definitions pose the question of whether the mind and the brain are the same thing, or whether they are two different objects, and perhaps the mind is not physical at all.[footnoteRef:2] [2: Sober, Elliott. (2013). Core Questions In Philosophy. New Jersey: Pearson, p. 204. ]
Though many different arguments have been presented that claim to give an answer to this problem, the solution that I will be focusing on in this paper is the idea of dualism, proposed by René Descartes. Descartes’s provides two arguments to support his notion that the mind is a nonphysical object that is distinct from the whole body and all of its physical parts.[footnoteRef:3] Though Descartes’s arguments appear to offer a valid reason for believing that the mind and the body are two separate entities, I will argue that the criticisms posed by Elliott Sober thoroughly invalidate Descartes’s explanation.[footnoteRef:4] [3: Ibid.] [4: Ibid. ]
I will begin by discussing dualism in general and how it differentiates from other solutions to the mind/body problem (II). I will then briefly discuss a principle known as Leibniz’s Law, which Descartes utilizes in both of his arguments, to better explain how they are structurally valid (III). Subsequently, I will present Descartes’s two arguments for dualism (IV) and will follow with Sober’s criticisms of these arguments (V). I will go on to present my own evaluation of why I believe Sober clearly invalidates Descartes’s way of reasoning (VI). Lastly, I will reiterate the main points of this paper to further emphasis my thesis (VII).
How Dualism Differentiates From Other Solutions to the Mind/Body Problem.
In general, Descartes’s dualism is the idea that there are two kinds of things in the world: physical objects and mental objects (like minds, pains, and
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