Morality and happiness in people’s lives

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The article in the textbook tells us that Mill makes up the conclusions about morality which constitutes the final, the highest goal of the person. All people are aiming to the satisfaction of their desires, and the happiness or good consists in prolonged, clear and persistent pleasure. And with this utilitarianism is the theory which is directed against the egoism, against such point of view according to which – the good consists in the satisfaction of the personal interest by the person. Acceptability or unacceptability of the pleasure or benefit which we get in every specific case, they are defined by the fact if they promote the reaching of the highest goal, common happiness. On this basis Mill establishes the definitions (values) of the phenomena and events, both good and evil.

And accordingly, Mill defines the morality as the rules with the purpose of guidance for a person in his deeds through the observance of which the humanity gets the existence which is the most free from the suffering and rich for delights.

Mill is also clarifying the principle of the good. Good really is in the happiness. But this is not private but a common happiness. Individual is required not to strive for the personal happiness, he/she is required to assist other people’s happiness. Such requirement has a sense. It would be too naive to set hopes upon achievement of the universal happiness and even happiness of considerable part of people. The principle of good indeed assumes the urge of the person towards removal and minimizing unhappiness, misery. And this is quite realistic goal.

Mill is proclaiming the common good as the highest principle of morality. He marked up that the person must long for providing his own private good, keeping in mind the highest principle of morality.

Mill also was solving the problem of virtue. Even if virtue can be perceived by the individual as the good of itself, the virtue is not a goal of itself, it is only the means for its achievement. A person doesn’t have the slightest motive (impetus), the slightest wish to be virtuous. Virtue excites person’s wish only because it makes up means to get the delight and, in particular, to eliminate the suffering. Virtue is valuable not of itself but as means for achievement of happiness as a part of happiness.

The main moral principle of the utilitarianism is defined concretely in less general principles of the second level. And if we take the moral obligations of the person, then each of them is correlated with the secondary principles. These principles are not less significant than the main principle, and the degree of their obligatoriness is the same as the main principle has. Mill’s moral’s structure is set by hierarchy of the main principle (principle of good/benefit) and by derivatives or the secondary principles which person is actually guided in certain actions.

According to the logic of Mill, the moral choice and the assessment must be realized by means of the identification of preferable pleasures from the point of view of the good. So, in other words, the reliable base for the qualitative characteristic of pleasures (to define what pleasure is more valuable) is the common opinion, and if there are some disagreements – the point of view of majority who experienced different pleasures. But still there is no answer for the question – how can we detect the opinion of the majority, the predominant opinion.

There is another base for person’s taking the decision and fulfillment of the action, this is the assistance to good. Mill explains that we, in our actions, must be guided by such rule which can be admitted by all rational beings with the good for their collective interest. Mill acknowledges that person is rarely acting exactly in the direction of the common good because not everybody has financial opportunity to undertake large-scale charitable projects.

Mill thinks that people, as a rule, are aiming to the personal good, and the common good consists of the endeavors of different people to realize their private interest. And the common good appears as the sum of private good.

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