Proof and Sanction in Mill's Utilitarianism

History of Philosophy Quarterly 7 (4):475 - 487 (1990)

The essay examines Mill's proof of the utilitarian principle in Utilitarianism and attempts to articulate what Mill himself would have regarded as the proof. It is suggested that the easiest construction of the proof would involve Mill in conflating the proof with the sanction for the principle. Other possibilities--including, in the end, the possibility which this essay favors--require that important steps in the proof be regarded as immediate or intuitive, rather than supported by reasons. Questions are raised concerning what Mill is trying to prove, what "the utilitarian principle" is which functions in the proof, and what the relation is between duty and sanction
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