On liberty utilitarianism and other essays about life
Utilitarianism and Other Essays by John Stuart Mill
Bentham is not unaware of this tension. He addresses part of theproblem in the political context in other writings, notably hisPlan for Parliamentary Reform (1817). In the politicalcontext, the problem is how we can get self-interested rulers to rulein the interest of the governed, as utilitarianism implies that theyshould. Bentham's answer invokes his commitment to representativedemocracy. We can reconcile self-interested motivation and promotion ofthe common good if we make rulers democratically accountable to (all)those whom they govern, for this tends to make the interest of thegoverned and the interest of the governors coincide. Bentham'sargument, elaborated by James Mill in his Essay on Government,is something like this.
Utilitarianism and Other Essays has 207 ratings and 9 reviews
Mill's utilitarian justification of secondary principles is intendedas a contrast with the intuitionism of William Whewell and others. Ashe makes clear in his essay “Whewell on MoralPhilosophy”(CW X), Mill thinks that the intuitionistwrongly treats familiar moral precepts as ultimate moral factors whosejustification is supposed to be self-evident. By contrast, Mill'saccount of secondary principles recognizes their importance in moralreasoning but insists that they are neither innate nor infallible; theyare precepts that have been adopted and internalized because of theiracceptance value, and their continued use should be suitably regulatedby their ongoing comparative acceptance value. Far from underminingutilitarian first principles, Mill thinks, appeal to the importance ofsuch moral principles actually provides support for utilitarianism.