Utilitarianism Refined

The concept of diversity on what is considered pain or pleasure among humans continues to pose debate in the philosophy of utilitarianism. Humans are inherently different and our definitions of pain of pleasure differ widely. The author talks about utilitarianism as basically the need to minimize pain and maximize pain, then invokes debate by noting that there is no universal definition for pain or happiness. From the reading, it is clear that the best way to defend utilitarianism is to erase the idea that the concept of happiness or pain is one- dimensional.

Utilitarianism remains one of the most controversial philosophies because of the differences in human desire. John Stuart Mills talks about pleasure and moral obligations. After reading it, one gets the notion that the element of moral obligations should be the one that unites all ethical philosophies, but human differences also complicate this concept. What constitutes immoral behavior to one person could perfectly ethical to another. The use of euthanasia in terminally ill patients came to mind when reading this chapter as I realized that mercy killing minimizes pain on one and adds pain to another. It leaves one wondering whether this practice supports the utilitarian school of thought or not.

Placing value on pleasure is another element explored by John Stuart Mills. Looking at his argument, one gets to understand the societal differences in our abilities to achieve certain levels of pleasure. The author notes that he concludes that people who are satisfied by lower levels of pleasure do so because they are sure that they are incapable of achieving higher levels of pleasure. In my opinion, the author sheds light on the need to look at philosophies of ethics and moral obligations from an individual perspective. This way we can use the philosophy to either validate or invalidate an action based on the needs of the one person immediately affected.