Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Utilitarianism” as Want to Read:
Utilitarianism
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview read book

Utilitarianism

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  11,344 ratings  ·  143 reviews
This expanded edition of John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism includes the text of his 1868 speech to the British House of Commons defending the use of capital punishment in cases of aggravated murder. The speech is significant both because its topic remains timely and because its arguments illustrate the applicability of the principle of utility to questions of large-scale s ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 71 pages
Published June 15th 2002 by Hackett Publishing Company (first published 1861)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Republic by PlatoThus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich NietzscheCritique of Pure Reason by Immanuel KantMeditations by Marcus AureliusBeing and Time by Martin Heidegger
Best Philosophy Book
68th out of 566 books — 670 voters
Republic by PlatoThe Prince by Niccolò MachiavelliThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. KuhnThe Order of Things by Michel FoucaultDiscourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes
Knowledge
19th out of 154 books — 66 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Lona
مراجعة مقتضبة:-

يمكن إدراج هذا الكتاب تحت بند فلسفة الأخلاق؛ يتكلم عن "النفعية"، وما النفعية إلا تلك: السعادة كغاية قصوى يسعى لها الجميع لما تحدثه من لذة في نفوس ذائقيها، ويتم طرحها ونقاشها كمبدأ أخلاقي مكتمل هدفه الأقصى_الأسمى المصلحة العامة

النفعية = أعظم السعادة = المصلحة العامة

لا أرى بأساً لو تمَّ تغيير عنوان الكتاب إلى فلسفة السعادة

***** *** * *** *****

مراجعة ليست بالمقتضبة:-

هل تعرفون ما هي العاصفة؟ بالتأكيد تعرفون!؛ هنالك نوعية من الكتب تُحدث عاصفة داخل عقولنا ولو تزامن تصوير الدماغ بتقني
...more
Hamidreza Hosseini
مهم ترین چیزی که با خوندن این کتاب فهمیدم یا در واقع ازش مطمئن تر شدم، اینه که اغلب مطالب آموزشی دوران تحصیل ما، چه در دوران مدرسه و چه در دانشگاه (رشته های فنی حداقل) مشتی اراجیف و دروغ بوده اند.
اون جایی که توی کتاب تعلیمات دینی از فلسفه های فایده گرایانه، به عنوان فلسفه هایی فقط به دنبال لذت حیوانی یاد شده بود.
نمیگم تمام حرفهای این کتاب و فلسفه ی اخلاق فایده گرا درسته، ولی خیلی کمک میکنه به اینکه بتونی بهتر فکر کنی به مسیری که برای زندگی اخلاقیت در نظر گرفتی.

نوشته ی خود استیوارت میل واقعا سخت
...more
Farah Al-Shuhail
تصوّر نظرية فلسفية تضمن السعادة العظمى لأكبر عدد من الأشخاص، وتقوم على مبدأ الفردية (منفعة الفرد فوق مصلحة المجتمع)، وتستند في قياسها لسلوك الفرد على النتائج أو ما يعرف بالعواقبية (مدى أخلاقية فعل ما تقاس بالنتائج المترتبة على الفعل). هذا، بإختصار، هو المبدأ النفعي الذي أسسه الفيلسوف البريطاني جيريمي بنثام وتأثر به المؤرخ والفيلسوف جيمس مِل ونقله بدوره إلى ابنه جون ستيوارت مِل الذي اخذ على عاتقه مهمة الدفاع عنه.

يبدو مبدأ النفعية للوهلة الأولى مثالياً، مما يدفعني للتفكير، إذا كانت النفعية مثالية
...more
Andrew
Mill writes about Utilitarianism. If you've read any modern take on this ethical system, there's nothing new here. The first chapter is very long and boring - I guess back in Mill's time he needed to justify Utilitarianism over other ethical systems like the Christian Bible pleas - now we, probably due to Mill, Utilitarianism is a completely understandable concept and doesn't really need to be defending in contrast to religious morals.

The rest of the book is fun, and Mill shows his passion for
...more
Robert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ben Labe
Here, Mill offers a thorough description and defense of his moral theory, proposing the greatest happiness ("utilitarian") principle as the unique first principle underlying all moral conduct. "The 'greatest happiness principle' holds that actions are right in proportion as they promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness," he argues. Happiness, Mill defines as "pleasure itself, together with exemption from pain." While this definition seems dubious at first, Mill d ...more
Maureen
Sep 25, 2008 Maureen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Maureen by: Dr. John Granrose
Shelves: philosophy
The greatest proponent of utilitarianism in modern memory is Dr. Spock of Star Trek fame. The fact that an essay written in the 1860s is still having an impact on contemporary culture speaks to the longevity of J.S. Mill's idea. It has fueled countless debates among students in philosophy classes, and in the general public. The Greatest Happiness Principle is certainly worthy of consideration, and Mill's treatise has probably figured into many people's calculations when weighing momentous life d ...more
Amy
Okay, I'm not sure what to say about this. It's like milk; it's good for you, but can leave you bloated and gassy and the cover is totally uninspiring. Most of the writing is equally uninspiring. I recommend 2 minutes of Utilitarianism followed by 20 minutes of Googling gossipy facts about Mill.
Mohammed Al-Garawi
Before I start talking about utilitarianism, let me tell you one thing or two about the philosopher who wrote this book.

John Stewart Mill was the son of the 17th century British philosopher James mill. And by taking full control of his son's educations and keeping him from associating with children of his own age, James Mill produced a prodigy who was said to have started learning Greek at three and Latin at seven. By the age of twelve young Mill was a competent logician, by sixteen a skilled ec
...more
Lisa
People who've studied philosophy are, IMO, the most interesting people with whom to share conversation. There's a kind of elegance about the way they put a case for an idea, and I like the way that while are open to dissenting opinions, they can demolish them in style.
Mills shows how it's done. Here and there he pours a little scorn, but mostly it's a classically intelligent, coherent, logical argument for the principle that when trying to decide on a course of action, one should choose the pos
...more
Marts  (Thinker)
By simple definition: utilitarianism - a doctrine that actions are right if they are useful or benefit a majority... this can be compared to that which is considered epicurean...
Elliot
Having watched most of the video series of Michael Sandel’s wonderful course Justice (which I almost certainly will enroll in sometime over the next four years), I approached this text fairly familiar with utilitarian ethics. Going in, I knew that I considered utilitarianism both intuitively and, to a certain extent, syllogistically appealing – at least as a general framework. I could probably have drawn up a list of a number of major imperfections and flaws in the fundamental principles of util ...more
Mario
This is about as dry as a box of century-old Saltines, but it does contain interesting ideas, if poorly and inelegantly expressed. I think Mill's basic stumbling block is in the transition between the rights and morals of an individual and the good of a society. He tries multiple times to make the connection, but he never manages to pull it off seamlessly. I got the feeling that even he didn't actually believe in the idea he was expressing on that point, only that the transition was necessary fo ...more
Brent McCulley
Again, Mill is so fascinating to read, but his ethical theory is so flimsy, cumbersome, and ungrounded, that it ultimately self-destructs on itself. Utilitarianism as a concept is so arbitrary, that although it was probably a new fascinating ethical theory during Mill's time, it has almost altogether been abandoned by philosophers of ethics today.

Who determines what the "good" is for society? What happens with the ultimate good - in order to achieve chief happiness for the greatest amount of peo
...more
Tyler
The last chapter saved this book from a one-star rating. While it's still wrong in a whole, I believe that Mill makes very small but important points throughout the book. For instance, he realizes that equality, with a government, requires inequality because some have more power than others (i.e. the people in government). Overall, though, his "proof" of utilitarianism is weak. His analysis of other ethical theories are very topical and not in-depth. And lastly, the most annoying thing about thi ...more
Brandon
Mill inherited the mantle of Utilitarianism from his father, James Mill, and his godfather, Jeremy Bentham. Though he was schooled in it from a young age, in his later writing life he became no mere parrot of his forefathers' theories -- he critiqued, extended, and improved them.

Mill saw a fundamental flaw in Bentham's Utilitarianism: if what we must aim for is the greatest happiness of the greatest number, then this condition can be satisfied if the majority of society are sated and made happy
...more
Otto Lehto
Mill's essay is a rambling thing of some beauty and of unquestionable merit.

Utiliarianism of his mentor Bentham is richly espoused and its principles defended.

Mill's version of the doctrine shows a kind of post-Enlightenment rationalist culmination of the long line of British sentimentalist moralists (Locke, Hume) and their synthesis with the principles of industrial design: calculations of utility are offered to replace the wishy-washy "feelgood" of more pastoral writers of the 17th Century. B
...more
Benjamin
If you have utter antipathy toward Utilitarianism or consider it an impracticable or vague theory, you probably just need to read the work. Mill describes much more than the simplistic, mathematical view often attributed to him. I would venture that perhaps no other moral theory would better align with the general public's sentiment than Mill's. This is not to endorse the theory--I am not a utilitarian--but it is to say it is worth consideration, and definitely worth a careful read.
Melissa Smith
This book is short but very challenging. I would suggest reading it over and over again until you have the "Eureka!" moment that will be life changing. It took me 7 reads to feel like I really got the gist of what John Stuart Mills was trying to express on ethics and happiness. In the end, I didn't agree with everything he thought but it touched me and I still think about it years later. Now that's what I call a successful book!
Lindsey
An interesting philosophy, and one of the most important informers of today's morality. It's surprising how much we refer to the ideas in the book, without even thinking about it. So many parts of public policy are grounded in it, from social welfare to cost-benefit analysis. It was really great to read the book and get more of an understanding about where we are today and where we came from.
Jonah Moseley
Mill's theory is a realistic look at the idea that "whatever provides the greatest good for the greatest number of people is moral." This is not the first book written on the subject, however, It best expresses the pros and cons utilitarianism brings up. By confronting nearly all the issues brought up in discussion of utility, it best shows the theory's practical implications. As man philosophical books lack this, I also find it important to point out that This particular version has an excellen ...more
Michelle
Disclaimer: I am a college student taking philosophy as a required course, I have no background in philosophy except for other works I've read in the class.

Utilitarianism has come a long way since Mill. I remember in English class in high school as well as speech and debate, Utilitarianism was always spoken of as "would you rather save one person who you love or a fifty people you don't know?" What's the greater good?

While Mill does not go into that example, he lays the foundation for utilitaria
...more
Mary
Mill's analysis of The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number principle as propounded by Jeremy Bentham attempts to cure two objections to it. Bentham would say that if public money were to go for a place of entertainment a sports arena would trump a museum every time since more people love spectator sports than art. Mill said that there are higher and lower pleasures. You can tell which is which by asking people who have experienced both, which one is nobler. Mill also makes room for certain abs ...more
Wendy Bertsch
The philosophy is solid, but Mill spends too many words defending it (admittedly probably quite necessary at that time.) I would have been interested in seeing more about how he saw it being applied.
Ahmed Azimov
بيقولك " نختبر ونقرر مدى جدارته بالانتماء الى المجموعة البشرية " وايضا " التضحية الواعية والمعقولة في فترة انتقالية مقبولة "

اليمين ديما بيدلو بدلوه التنفيذي على الأرض مباشرة، وده أدفانتج فشيخ.
Desiree
This is a good starter book on Utiliarianism. As previously criticized, the first chapter is a bit boring and the writing style is basic and to the point, but not all that unusual for the time period. Regardless, it's an important read if you want a grasp on various philosophical theories. I'm not a utilitarian, but this is a good argument for utilitarianism if you're looking to explore and/or debunk it. Even though I prefer progressive, modern philosophy, I think having a grasp of all classic p ...more
Dr. A
---
Read this and reviews of other classics in Western Philosophy on the History page of www.BestPhilosophyBooks.org (a thinkPhilosophy Production).
---

John Stuart Mill’s most important contribution to Western Philosophy is Utilitarianism, wherein he outlines a moral theory premised on promoting the greatest good for the greatest number of people. We can decide what we should do and how we should act on the basis of a calculus mean to increase the overall happiness of people and the common good o
...more
Erik
First I must say that I am not a philosopher and this review is not based on a very close reading of the material. I decided to listen to the free audio version of this book to see if I could understand the basic tenets of utilitarianism. However it appears that this book is more of a response to critics of the original theory of Bentham. In addition most of it seems to be wishful thinking. It seems to me that utilitarianism cannot be used for ethics without first defining a utility function. Mi ...more
Cyndi
Struggled through the beginning of the book but it cleared up some misconceptions I had of Utilitarianism and while not agreeing with every premise, Mill is on solid ground in making the majority of his conclusions. Utiliarinism basically says that happiness is an end for man. Our choices are made based upon what we define as good - those things that bring us happiness and what we define as bad - those things that bring us pain. I have wondered if epicureans are utilitarian but they are not as i ...more
Ramona Tudor
I might believe that utilitarianism talks about wolrd peace. What is interesting is the fact that one might seriously think that it could work : by education. Mill says, at some point, that utilitarianism could be spread in time by education. I might believe that anything that goes round and around this world can pe ”imputed” to people by education. But that might not be a good thing in itself (if we look at the fact, it looks rather like an act of manipulation -of course, by what we mean educat ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: New edition to be added 2 60 Nov 18, 2013 07:15AM  
Utilitarianism 3 23 Dec 29, 2009 01:47PM  
  • Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)
  • A Treatise of Human Nature
  • An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  • A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
  • A Theory of Justice
  • Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking
  • Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo
  • The Problems of Philosophy
  • Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong
  • Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
  • Naming and Necessity
  • Discourse on Metaphysics & Other Essays
  • Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
  • Language, Truth, and Logic
  • The Philosophy of History
57651
John Stuart Mill, British philosopher, political economist, civil servant and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was an exponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham, although his conception of it was very different from Bentham's.
More about John Stuart Mill...
On Liberty On Liberty and Other Essays The Subjection of Women On Liberty and Utilitarianism Autobiography

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“It is indisputable that the being whose capacities of enjoyment are low, has the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied; and a highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness which he can look for, as the world is constituted, is imperfect. But he can learn to bear its imperfections, if they are at all bearable; and they will not make him envy the being who is indeed unconscious of the imperfections, but only because he feels not at all the good which those imperfections qualify.

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question.”
129 likes
“The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest-Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure.” 27 likes
More quotes…