Mario's Reviews > Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill
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Aug 07, 12

bookshelves: nonfiction, philosophy, justice
Read from August 03 to 08, 2012 — I own a copy

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 for the principle, and he was wedded to the principle. In a way, it's almost like the entire philosophy suffers from the fallacy of composition, or maybe a moral version of Arrow's Impossibility Theorem -- you cannot simultaneously create a moral system that satisfies the rights of individuals separately and the community as a whole. Utilitarianism, as Mill describes it, is only triumphant so long as he is not compelled to take into account any other maxims of justice than the one he has selected, or so it seems to me.
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