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In Utilitarianism JS Mill was trying to show that actions and institutions should increase the overall amount of happiness in the world and stressed the importance of utilitarianism as the first principle in ethics to which any ambiguities with second principles such as do not kill may appeal In this discussion it is first of all necessary to examine what Mill meant by each of these statements in isolation before going on to explore how he attempts to reconcile these two statements We need to examine therefore exactly what Mill meant by pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things desirable as endsUtilitarianism can be summed up by a very short phrase from Joseph Priestlys Essay on Government the greatest happiness of the greatest number However it is important to note that although this maybe a concise summary it remains that it is merely a summary and perhaps obscures the particular features of Mills Utilitarianism Mill himself summarises his version of utilitarianism as pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things desirable as ends However this begs the question of what exactly did Mill mean by pleasure and by freedom from pain Mill believes as did Bentham that pain is the opposite of pleasure and as such an increase in pain means a decrease in aggregate pleasure for the individual Furthermore such pleasure or pain may be quantified according to intensity and duration so that all other things being equal a pleasure of greater intensity or longer duration is preferable to smaller intensity or shorter duration However on the actual definition of what constitutes pleasure Bentham and Mill differed greatlyBentham believed that any pleasure could be quantified according to intensity and duration and although intellectual pursuits were better in that they produced more pleasure this was entirely due to the fact that they were of greater intensity In this way in the Haydn and oyster though experiment Bentham would choose the life
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