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LIBERTY, THE HIGHER PLEASURES, AND MILL'S MISSING SCIENCE OF ETHNIC JOKES

  • Elijah Millgram (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

Aggregation-friendly moral theories such as classical utilitarianism are forced to invest a great deal of ingenuity in damping out and modulating the effects of welfare aggregation. In Mill's treatment, the problem famously appears as the puzzle of how the Principle of Liberty is meant to be compatible with the Principle of Utility, and there have been a great many attempted interpretations of his solution, all, in my view, unsatisfactory. I will first reconstruct Mill's generally unnoticed account of the psychological implementation of higher pleasures; this will allow me to explain what the distinction between higher and lower pleasures was, and how Mill was introduced lexical preference orderings into his theory. Then I will show how the underlying psychological theory permits Mill to argue for the lexical priority of liberty over the goods which liberty allows us to obtain. Finally, I will turn to the Millian considerations omitted from the argument I will have reconstructed. By way of explaining why they are so difficult to accommodate, I will consider why Mill might have abandoned his projected sciences of character. I will take my leave by asking what Mill's failure to turn his implementation analysis of the higher pleasures into an argument expressing the importance of individuality and originality means for us.

Abstract

Aggregation-friendly moral theories such as classical utilitarianism are forced to invest a great deal of ingenuity in damping out and modulating the effects of welfare aggregation. In Mill's treatment, the problem famously appears as the puzzle of how the Principle of Liberty is meant to be compatible with the Principle of Utility, and there have been a great many attempted interpretations of his solution, all, in my view, unsatisfactory. I will first reconstruct Mill's generally unnoticed account of the psychological implementation of higher pleasures; this will allow me to explain what the distinction between higher and lower pleasures was, and how Mill was introduced lexical preference orderings into his theory. Then I will show how the underlying psychological theory permits Mill to argue for the lexical priority of liberty over the goods which liberty allows us to obtain. Finally, I will turn to the Millian considerations omitted from the argument I will have reconstructed. By way of explaining why they are so difficult to accommodate, I will consider why Mill might have abandoned his projected sciences of character. I will take my leave by asking what Mill's failure to turn his implementation analysis of the higher pleasures into an argument expressing the importance of individuality and originality means for us.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

David Lyons , The Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965)

Jonathan Riley , “Is Qualitative Hedonism Incoherent?Utilitas 11, no. 3 (1999)

Riley , “Interpreting Mill's Qualitative Hedonism,” Philosophical Quarterly 53, no. 212 (2003)

Riley , “On Quantities and Qualities of Pleasure,” Utilitas 5, no. 2 (1993)

Gustaf Arrhenius and Wlodek Rabinowicz , “Millian Superiorities,” Utilitas 17, no. 2 (2005)

Christoph Schmidt-Petri , “Mill on Quality and Quantity,” Philosophical Quarterly 53, no. 210 (2003)

Paul Thagard , “Explanatory Coherence,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 12 (1989): 435–67

Elijah Millgram , “On Being Bored Out of Your Mind,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 104, no. 2 (2004): 163–84, secs. 2–3

Laurie Paul , “The Worm at the Root of the Passions: Poetry and Sympathy in Mill's Utilitarianism,” Utilitas 10, no. 1 (1998)

William Galston , Liberal Purposes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991)

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Social Philosophy and Policy
  • ISSN: 0265-0525
  • EISSN: 1471-6437
  • URL: /core/journals/social-philosophy-and-policy
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