Millian Qualitative Superiorities and Utilitarianism, Part I*: Jonathan Riley

Utilitas 20 (3):257-278 (2008)

Jonathan Riley
Tulane University
Arrhenius and Rabinowicz have argued that Millian qualitative superiorities are possible without assuming that any pleasure, or type of pleasure, is infinitely superior to another. But AR's analysis is fatally flawed in the context of ethical hedonism, where the assumption in question is necessary and sufficient for Millian qualitative superiorities. Marginalist analysis of the sort pressed by AR continues to have a valid role to play within any plausible version of hedonism, provided the fundamental incoherence that infects AR's use of such analysis is removed. But what AR call ‘Millian superiorities’ are never genuine qualitative superiorities in Mill's sense. Mill scholars need to appreciate this point and recognize that the interpretation of qualitative superiorities as infinite superiorities is the only interpretation which is compatible with the text of Mill's Utilitarianism. The continuing failure to appreciate the possibility of infinite superiorities has precluded any adequate understanding of the extraordinary structure of Mill's pluralistic hedonistic utilitarianism.
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DOI 10.1017/S0953820808003142
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References found in this work BETA

Aristotle: The Desire to Understand.Richard Kraut & Jonathan Lear - 1991 - Philosophical Review 100 (3):522.
Millian Superiorities.Gustaf Arrhenius & Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2005 - Utilitas 17 (2):127-146.
Quality of Well-Being: Quality of Being.John Skorupski - 2000 - In Roger Crisp & Brad Hooker (eds.), Well-Being and Morality: Essays in Honour of James Griffin. Clarendon Press. pp. 239--262.

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Citations of this work BETA

J. S. Mill’s Hedonism: Activism, Experientialism and Eudaimonism.Tim Beaumont - 2018 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26 (3):452-474.
J. S. Mill's Conception of Utility.Ben Saunders - 2010 - Utilitas 22 (1):52-69.

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