Utilitarianism is an ethical theory focused on the principles of promoting happiness. This theory advocates for actions that are right when they enhance the happiness of individuals but wrong when they subvert an individual’s action. John Stuart Mill explains happiness as a pleasure in the absence of pain, which is varying in quantity and quality (MacKinnon and Fiala, 98). Moreover, an individual’s attainment of ends and objectives, including the virtuous quality of life, can be defined as part of one’s happiness. Additionally, he argues that these pleasures are based on an individual’s higher levels of internal consciousness and senses and would therefore be considered under baser amusements (MacKinnon and Fiala, 103).
In Mill’s arguments, an individual’s social nature creates natural sentiments that are equal to utilitarianism (MacKinnon and Fiala, 110). In this regard, he suggests that to accept this utilitarianism as an ethic would mean society adopts the standards of utilitarianism appropriately. Community desires happiness, happiness for family and one another; hence, this desire for happiness is the fundamental of morality. Mill defines the other human desires as an inclusion to the meaning of happiness or the means to attaining their objectives which is to be happy (MacKinnon and Fiala, 102). Human nature is purposefully constructed so that a person’s only desire is to achieve happiness. This desire concludes that since happiness is the only desirable end to humans’ nature, the sole of human actions is happiness. People tolerate rights since they advocate for their greatest happiness, which shows how utility helps explain justice. When barriers are established in society, it does not matter if these barriers are the creators’ intentions; however, when an obstacle is used to avoid suicides and a life is saved, this is the greatest happiness that matters to a utilitarian.
Similarly, the practical standard accepts happiness that is for the most considerable amount. The idea in this moral standard is that nobleness is an essential aspect of an individual. When an action makes more people happier by an individual being noble in character, it defines the utilitarian standard of happiness. Similarly, the utilitarian theory ignores the extent of one’s pain for the greatest pleasure of others in quality and quantity. The individuals’ levels of senses and consciousness play a vital role in the realization of this aspect of happiness. This rule looks at an individual’s conduct and the nature of their actions end which provides the greatest feeling of pleasures that other people other than oneself experience and the spirit in which they conduct themselves to satisfy the desire for happiness in others (MacKinnon and Fiala, 110). The aspect of an individual’s moral standard raises concerns over an individual’s emotions for their nobleness. However, this ethical standard is achieved by inspiring and motivating an individual’s noble character to achieve this desired state that delivers absolute happiness to others even by preceding one’s wishes. In the end, the greatest pleasure is realized for one’s actions and, therefore, a realization of the desired end.
Furthermore, some pleasures feel better than others, raising the issue of enjoyment superiority. Individuals are expected to use higher faculties to determine the type of happiness they require. A creature of higher faculty involves a sense of dignity that each one possesses that is vital in making decisions based on the satisfaction that leaves one satisfied. This dignity allows every individual to recognize that their choices are to achieve a state of happiness that no other option would fulfill this desire. This aspect allows an individual of higher faculty to realize that they are best satisfied in their states, although they would have desired to contend with the world’s imperfections. On the other hand, an individual whose low happiness level remains fully satisfied after choosing between two preferred enjoyments. Mill illustrates that sensual pleasures are preferable to intellectual pleasure in varying individuals (MacKinnon and Fiala,100). Therefore, individuals would opt for such outcomes when there is increased assurance of happiness, higher senses, and consciousness.
In conclusion, there are various ways through which a utilitarian can assess the level of happiness in individuals. Firstly, as ends and means, Mills uses utilitarianism as a moral theory consequentialist that the results of an action are justified if they result in good for a more significant number or happiness (MacKinnon and Fiala, 101). Similarly, the utilitarian aspect of action demands that the most important number of people are happier. Each action undertaken to fulfill a desire has to be satisfying to an individual to realize the most significant amount of happiness. The action is taken to realize joy for the greatest pleasure is dependent on the utilitarian moral standard of greatest satisfaction. Lastly, an individual level of faculty is essential in basing pleasures. The consciousness and senses play a vital role in asserting the quality and quantity of two pleasures. In this regard, the creatures with higher faculties choose happiness, but they are not contending with their choices, while animals with lower faculties are more satisfied with their choices.
MacKinnon, Barbara, and Andrew Fiala. Ethics: Theory and contemporary issues. Cengage Learning, 2014.