Download Mill on Justice by Leonard Kahn (eds.) PDF

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By Leonard Kahn (eds.)

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Brink 8. In ‘Auguste Comte and Positivism’ Mill discusses the need to recognize categories of the permissible but not obligatory and the supererogatory (CW X, pp. 337–8), but he does not say or imply that this is a problem for act utilitarianism or an argument for sanction utilitarianism. 9. Earlier versions of some of this material were presented at the triennial meetings of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies at Dartmouth in August 2005, a UCSD History of Philosophy Roundtable in March 2007, the University of Pennsylvania in March 2007, a philosophy and law seminar at Georgetown University in February 2008, the University of California, Santa Barbara in May 2008, and the University of Texas in October 2008, and benefited from feedback on those occasions.

2. In Bentham’s case, this is reasonably clear from his doubts about the actual utility of trying to calculate expected utility in some circumstances ([1789] 1970, Chapter IV, Paragraph 6). However, the matter is complicated by the fact that Bentham treats both certainty and propinquity (temporal proximity) as intrinsic dimensions of pleasures that affect their intrinsic value ([1789] 1970, Chapter IV, Paragraphs 2–3). But here, I think, Bentham is confusing the standard and its application. Certainty and propinquity are not features of pleasures themselves, but of their relation to planners, and they affect not actual utility, but expected utility.

These three different utilitarian conceptions of duty are mutually inconsistent. Mill cannot consistently embrace more than one of these readings. After reviewing some of the evidence for the traditional act utilitarian reading, I consider Urmson’s case for a rule utilitarian reading. Urmson draws attention to Mill’s apparent concern with the felicific tendencies of classes of actions and his focus on secondary principles in moral reasoning. I argue that both of these considerations can be squared with act utilitarianism and so do not require us to depart from the traditional act utilitarian reading.

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