Volume 10 includes such significant essays as Utilitarianism,Auguste Comte and Positivism, and Three Essays on Religion, as well as other works, which clarify Mill’s enduring intellectual connection to Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarian school. In Utilitarianism, Mill sought to refine utilitarian doctrine by exploring the qualitative differences in different types of pleasures and arguing that higher artistic and intellectual pleasures should be given greater value over lesser types of pleasure.
Mill writes, “happiness is the sole end of human action, and the promotion of it the test by which to judge of all human conduct. . . .”1 He also makes it clear that the test is its promotion of happiness “to the greatest extent possible” (214). By such conduct Mill does not mean that which would promote happiness to the greatest extent conceivable, but that which would promote it to a greater extent than would any alternative. Mill also makes it clear that when he speaks of the promotion of happiness as “the test by which to judge of all human conduct,” the aspect of conduct of which he means that it is a test is whether it should be done.2 He thus holds that the test of whether something should be done is whether it would promote more happiness than would any alternative to it. Mill implies that if an action would satisfy this test, it should be done, and that if it would not, it is not one that should be done. Accordingly, the main principle which Mill maintains is that something should be done if and only if it would cause more happiness than would any alternative, and that something should not be done if and only if it would fail to cause as much happiness as would some alternative.
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), British philosopher, economist, moral and political theorist, and administrator, was the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century. His views are of continuing significance, and are generally recognized to be among the deepest and certainly the most effective defenses of empiricism and of a liberal political view of society and culture. The overall aim of his philosophy is to develop a positive view of the universe and the place of humans in it, one which contributes to the progress of human knowledge, individual freedom and human well-being. His views are not entirely original, having their roots in the British empiricism of John Locke, George Berkeley and David Hume, and in the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham. But he gave them a new depth, and his formulations were sufficiently articulate to gain for them a continuing influence among a broad public.