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John Stuart Mill’s book Utilitarianism is one of the most influential and widely-read philosophical defenses of utilitarianism in ethics.
Utilitarianism contains Mill’s only major discussion of the fundamental grounds for utilitarian ethical theory.
Mill aims to define precisely what utilitarianism claims in terms of the general moral principles that it uses to judge concrete actions, as well as in terms of the sort of evidence that is supposed to be given for such principles.
Mill formulates a single ethical principle, from which he says all utilitarian ethical principles are derived:
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.
Most importantly, it is not the agent's own greatest happiness that matters "but the greatest amount of happiness altogether."
Find out more in this book.
01 – I: General Remarks
02 – II: What Utilitarianism Is, pt. 1
03 – II: What Utilitarianism Is, pt. 2
04 – III: Of the Ultimate Sanction of the Principle of Utility
05 – IV: Of what Sort of Proof the Principle of Utility is Susceptible
06 – V: On the Connection between Justice and Utility, pt. 1
07 – V: On the Connection between Justice and Utility, pt. 2
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