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Mill's Stoic Conception of Happiness and Pragmatic Conception of Utility

  • Marcus G Singer


Mill's considered conception of happiness is as much stoic as hedonistic, actually more so, despite what he says in a number of places in Utilitarianism, and his considered conception of the workings of the principle of utility is pragmatic, in a sense developed years later by John Dewey. In this conception, it is a working principle, not for testing the rightness or wrongness of actions from the point of view of an uninvolved spectator, but for bringing about the sweeping changes in society that it actually requires. Mill's Utilitarianism is often cluttered up with attempts to defend the version of hedonistic utilitarianism he inherited from his father and Bentham. But it is not important whether Mill is consistent with traditional hedonism. He has much to say that is true and enlightening—this is what is important.


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  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
  • URL: /core/journals/philosophy
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