An analysis of state paternalism in on liberty by john stuart mill

John stuart mill on liberty

It implies that I do wrong every time I fail to perform the optimal act, even when these suboptimal acts are very good. John Stuart Mill opposes state paternalism on the grounds that individuals know their own good better than the state does, that the moral equality of persons demands respect for others' liberty, and that paternalism disrupts the development of an independent character. The general criterion implies that we should answer this question about the rightness of applying sanctions in sanction-utilitarians terms, namely, by asking whether it would be right to sanction the failure to apply sanctions. James Mill also treats psychological hedonism as axiomatic in his Essay on Government He who chooses his plan for himself employs all his faculties. He must use observation to see, reasoning and judgment to foresee, activity to gather materials for decision, discrimination to decide, and when he has decided, firmness and self-control to hold his deliberate decision. A more plausible goal to promote would be something like the ratio of true belief to false belief. That would not be a defense of utilitarianism. So formulated, direct and indirect utilitarianism are general theories that apply to any object of moral assessment. Bentham does not assume that our estimates of what will maximize utility will always be reliable. He [an agent] says to himself, I feel that I am bound not to rob or murder, betray or deceive; but why am I bound to promote the general happiness? As we will see, Mill thinks that much moral reasoning should be governed by secondary precepts or principles about such things as fidelity, fair play, and honesty that make no direct reference to utility but whose general observance does promote utility. We may give what explanation we please of this unwillingness [on the part of a competent judge ever to sink into what he feels to be a lower grade of existence] …but its most appropriate appellation is a sense of dignity, which all human beings possess in one form or other, and in some, though by no means in exact, proportion to their higher faculties ….

People can and do have mistaken desires about what is good. In the political context, the problem is how we can get self-interested rulers to rule in the interest of the governed, as utilitarianism implies that they should.

problems with the harm principle

But it does not justify freedom of expression in preference to more conservative forms of censorship. Act Utilitarianism: An act is right insofar as its consequences for the general happiness are at least as good as any alternative available to the agent.

We can reconcile self-interested motivation and promotion of the common good if we make rulers democratically accountable to all those whom they govern, for this tends to make the interest of the governed and the interest of the governors coincide. I say of every action whatsoever; and therefore not only every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government.

He who chooses his plan for himself employs all his faculties. One would think that the aim is to make claims that parallel 4 and 5.

In that same chapter, he focuses on the felicific tendencies of actions and assigns a significant role to rules within moral reasoning, both of which have been taken to commit him to a rule utilitarian doctrine.

The first sentence appears to endorse utilitarianism, while the second sentence appears to endorse a hedonistic conception of utilitarianism. Hedonism is apparently introduced in the Proportionality Doctrine, when Mill identifies happiness and pleasure U II 2.

Inthe Mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains in the French Alpsannounced a permit system for climbing the Mont Blanc via the popular modern normal route on the French side of the mountain, in order to restrict the number of aspiring climbers and to diminish the large number of fatal accidents on this route.

Even if literally false, a censored opinion might contain part of the truth II 34—39, Doing so is costly, and we may sometimes promote utility best by not trying to promote it directly.

John stuart mills harm principle definition & examples

Many provisions of the criminal law, such as prohibitions on murder and assault, might be designed both to enforce fundamental moral provisions and to prevent harm to others. V 36 Here we see Mill identifying utilitarian impartiality with the demands of justice and morality itself also see Crisp 79— Rather, he is assuming that the moral point of view is impartial in a way that prudence is not. In particular, they will restrict the liberties of their subjects in ways that benefit themselves, rather than the ruled. Notice that these relationships among duty, justice, and rights do not yet introduce any utilitarian elements. Moreover, the interpretation accounts for all of Mill's departures from his otherwise blanket prohibition of paternalistic legislation. This concern with self-examination and practical deliberation is, of course, a central theme in On Liberty. Shields, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, Intensity, duration, and extent would appear to be the most relevant variables here. London: Longmans, Green and Co. Though this avoids a regress, it appears to render sanction utilitarianism internally inconsistent. So interpreted, the Proportionality Doctrine would espouse a form of rule utilitarianism. Urmson famously defended a rule utilitarian reading of Mill

Sometimes one has a duty to do an act that is suboptimal, and sometimes it is wrong to do the optimal act.

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