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HAPPINESSHappiness: In one word, this concept exemplifies the American dream. People go to any
means by which to obtain the many varied materials and issues that induce pleasures in
each individual, and intrinsically, this emotion remains the ultimate goal, John Stuart
Mill, a nineteenth century philosopher, correctly advocated the pursuit of happiness, and
maintained the concept that above all other values, pleasure existed as the final
destination, Mill’s hedonistic views correctly and rationally identified a natural human
tendency, and his Utilitarian arguments strongly support the theory that above all else,
happiness is the most important dream to be fulfilled. Upon researching for this paper, I
came across a counter argument, which was based on metaphysics. Immanuel Kant, in
Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, defends his strong beliefs in the issue of a good
will, and surfaces as MM’s chief opponent on the topic of metaphysics, The issue
diminishes to a clash between emotions and pleasures verses rationality and logic. Yet,
what use is logic when the good agent is miserable? Mill’s stance within Utilitarianism
exists as the more favorable of the two beliefs, for happiness exist as the one
intrinsically favorable element, not an emotionless mind.
The main defender of the Utilitarian system exists within the Greatest
happiness Principle. Mill lived as a chief advocate of this concept, which supports the
idea that a decision is morally correct as long as it increases and encourages pleasures
and happiness. Kant, however, in his endless quest to remain separate from emotions and
thrive only on logic, would argue that autonomy should be placed above happiness in a list
of intrinsic values. A good will, however, does not comfort an individual in any way if
happiness does not accompany this asset, Consider this example of a seemingly happily
married couple. The wife in this duo is madly in love with her husband fiercely loyal, and
completely happy with her marriage and children. The husband, however, as wrongfully
strayed, and had a brief, but damaging affair behind his wife’s back. Kant would
argue that autonomy reigns over pleasure, and the woman should therefore want to be
informed of her husband’s adultery, Mill would greatly disagree. By revealing the secret
of the past affair, the woman’s happy world would be instantly shattered. Her pride would
diminish, her stability would fall apart, and the children especially would be forced to
view a nasty side of their beloved father. In this case, individual control is greatly
overshadowed by the need for happiness. The husband is no longer acting unfaithful and the
family can easily continue to live in a happy realm, If the secret were to become
uncovered, all members of this circumstance unavoidably would become terribly
disappointed, Under the Greatest Happiness Principle, the wife should not be informed.
Since happiness truly lives as the ultimate in human desires, sparing such immense amounts
of pain truly is the logical choice, Mill’s argument prevails, and all those involved
remain happy. Through this example, one can easily see that although autonomy is often a
favorable feature, it does not overshadow the importance of happiness.
One of the main arguments against Utilitarianism exist in the lack of apparent fairness.
An advocate of the Kantian logic principle would argue that Mill’s belief system does not
allow for equal treatment, When considering what is best for an entire society, however,
it is necessary for certain individuals to endure suffering. The good of society remains
the ultimate goal, and unfortunate pain is therefore inevitable, If young children are
being killed in a certain community, the obvious good for this society is discovering and
punishing the murderer. Especially when children are involved, people automatically demand
prompt justice. The officials of this area have searched immensely for the accused, yet no
leads have surfaced, and the community suddenly erupts with anger, they demand that
someone be punished, As a Utilitarian, the police chief sees a window of opportunity. A
drug dealer has recently been brought in on yet another drug selling offense, and the
chief decides to coerce the invaluable member of society into confessing the crime at
hand, By doing so, the community instantly reunites in support and a dangerous and deadly
revolt is avoided, and a menace to society is right back where he would have been
regardless of his confession: behind bars, Kant, however, would argue that logically, the
chase for the true offender should continue. He would shun the emotional decision to make
the whole society happy by ignoring the rational decisions. But since the community
obviously chooses happiness over logic, Kant’s arguments are irrelevant. In addition, Kant
believes in a decision making process completely separate from the natural human emotions,
Such a demand is possible only for a character such as Star Trek’s Dr. Spock, for human
emotions are as much a part of every day life as the decision making process itself.
Logically speaking, therefore, Mill’s Utilitarianism arguments maintain the largest dose
Other opponents to the philosophical viewpoint of Utilitarianism state
that followers of this belief system often promote an ignorant lifestyle, They maintain
that advocates of the Greatest Happiness Principle believe in the theory that
"ignorance is bliss," Again, such reasoning is quite faulty. Displaying the
erroneousness of this statement can be done by examining the issue of AIDS, An opponent of
Utilitarianism would say an Infected HIV victim would not want to be aware of his
disorder, Such a belief is extremely incorrect. Mill and other Utilitarian are strong
advocates of education, for with intelligence, greater levels of achievement and happiness
can be obtained. A member of this belief system would rightly argue that being aware of
the disorder could increase long-term happiness, for treatments and support from friends
and family could greatly aid the victim’s fight against his or her alhnents, Mills
therefore strongly support education systems and believe in making society as a whole as
happy as possible. In the case of the AIDS victim, a Utilitarian would also support the
notification of the disorder to the victim in order to spare others of contracting the
virus, The happiness of the majority would not be increased by an unknowing HIV carrier
spreading the disease to other defenseless individuals, Utilitarianism clearly is not a
ignorant way to live, and the Kantian philosophy of ignoring the irrational system of
emotions cannot refute this standard.
Without happiness, the other opportunities and necessities lose nearly
all levels of importance. A true Utilitarian supports only those concepts that promote the
highest levels of pleasures, and as Mill states, encourages only those actions that
promote real happiness, From a Kantian viewpoint, rationality and the possession of a good
will remains the most important element, but even someone with the truest and most logical
of intentions can easily exist in a realm of pure depression. The one link that exists
between these opposite belief systems is the concept that, all decisions should be made
outside of one’s personality. The key is that Kant said this decisions should be made
without any regard for human emotions, A request of this magnitude is a part of a utopian
society only, for ignoring one’s emotions is an illogical assumption in itself, If your
child and wife are both dying, deciding which one to save cannot be made without some
emotional influence, Utilitarianism allows for the emotional side of li
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