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Utilitarianism-john stuart mills

  1. Feb 7, 2006 #1

    Do anyone agree with Mill's statement that it is better to be a dissatisfied Socrates than a satisfied pig(Bentham's ethics)???
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2006 #2
    What exactly do you mean by 'satisfied'? I do believe that Socrates (as he is typically portrayed) was immune to dissatisfaction. I do believe he even said this himself by way of "you cannot harm a virtuous man".

    In the pig's case (I take it that you mean a glutton), I would argue that long-term indulgement in immediate pleasures leads to a very dissatisfying life. That pie may taste good, and sitting on your bum may feel good, but how will you feel in the future? Especially compared to someone who ate healthy and exercised (I think this character could parallel Socrates in some regard [by that I mean he is "dissatisfied" with having to run in the morning, skipping the 2nd slice of pie, etc, but continues to do it anyways, because it's what's best (like virtue)]).

    So yes, I agree with Mills.
  4. Feb 7, 2006 #3
    To say that Bentham's ethics are pig ethics--Well, to put it politely, the best thing you can do is change your major back to physics. . . . .
  5. Feb 7, 2006 #4


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    Just to clarify, Mill's version of utilitarianism proposes a hierarchy of pleasures whereby intellectual pleasure is more highly valued than sensual pleasure. This question, rephrased, is simply asking whether you agree that this should be the case. Should we continue this tradition, going all the way back to the anthrocentrism of Aristotle, of privileging the rational?
  6. Feb 7, 2006 #5
    Of course we should continue them, and there is a good reason that they have been. One, human cuiriosity demands that we try to understand the unknown, and joy is a natural emotional response to getting what we want. Second, it is good for society. Without learning, both in science and philosophy, we would still be stuck in an ignorant stone age with high rates of death and suffering. Why would he want to increase knowledge unless we took pleasure in it? For this reason it should be continued.
  7. Feb 9, 2006 #6


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    Trivialization and, further on, censoring of physical pleasure to the point of actually justifying the presence&impartment of physical pain and misery is one of the unhealthiest aspects of Western thought.
    Physical pleasures ARE important, and deeply so.
    In particular, you cannot assume that the pursuit of "higher pleasures" ever can take off, unless a sufficient amount of physical happiness is already present.

    Thus, intellectual pleasures are forms of luxury, any serious investigation ought to have as its primary aim:
    How may we achieve an acceptable level of physical happiness?
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