The Proof

In Christopher Macleod & Dale E. Miller (eds.), A Companion to Mill. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. pp. 328–341 (2016)
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Abstract

John Stuart Mill's version of utilitarianism is that there is something that is a value as an end of action and that all actions, rules for action, laws, policies, and so on, are to evaluated by their promotion of that value or reduction of the negative of that value. The value judgment, that promotion of happiness and reduction of unhappiness are the normative ends of action is the “principle of utility,” and the “proof” is designed to argue for that principle. The proof is an argument from introspective psychology, on what people desire, and are averse to, as ends. The claim is that when properly analyzed each person desires his or her own happiness, and this is evidence that happiness is the kind of thing that is valuable as an end, whether it exists in the agent's or another's consciousness. It is a “comprehensive formula, including all things which are in themselves good, and that whatever else is good, is not so as an end, but as a means…”

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