The utilitarianism theory, John Stuart Mill, the Greatest Happiness Principle, gay rights, the legal status of marriage, right to be happy, right to freedom of speech, religion and expression
John Stuart Mill once wrote, "I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people actually desire it" (42). Every person has their own view of happiness, and according to Mill's theory of utilitarianism, the greatest good comes from that which makes the greatest number happy, a mass majority, so to speak. Utilitarianism says, in the Greatest Happiness Principle, that an action's goodness consists in its increasing the total quality of pleasure in the world, from now until the end of time, and its badness in its decreasing the total quality of pleasure in the world from now to the end of time. Therefore, the more an action increases the total quality of pleasure in the world, the better it is, and the more it decreases the total quantity of pleasure in the world, the worse it is. We live in a society where we believe in every person's right to be happy, to freedom of speech, religion and expression. To that end, should the laws of utilitarianism apply to our society, and to each and every individual?
[...] According to the theory of utilitarianism, there are internal and external sanctions, which are enough for any legal debate. Because the external sanctions are based on the outside of the individual's point of view, such as peer pressure or disapproval, each and every individual must decide if what they want, if what they find pleasing is worth the trouble. What are harder for most to handle are the internal sanctions, such as one's conscience. These feelings are difficult to quell, and are enough to create significant discomfort. [...]
[...] This is clearly seen when Mill states the impugners of the utilitarian morality represented it to their own minds in this its true character, I know not what recommendation possessed by any other morality they could possibly affirm to be wanting to it; what more beautiful or more exalted developments of human nature any other ethical system can be supposed to foster, or what springs of action, not accessible to the utilitarian, such systems rely on for giving effect to their mandates” (41). Although the question is one of legality, it is imperative to understand that utilitarianism is based on the idea of the greater good. As stated by Mills, “happiness is a good; that each person's happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons” (42). [...]
[...] According to Mill, person is made, or thinks he would be made, happy by its mere possession; and is made unhappy by failure to obtain it. The desire of it is not a different thing from the desire of happiness, any more than the love of music, or the desire of health” (43). In other words, as human beings, we place great emphasis on virtue, freedom and independence because by simply having these things, we can be said to be happy. [...]
[...] However, the idea of happiness, as explained by John Stuart Mill, does indeed argue for the legalization of marriage for homosexual couples. In his work, Utilitarianism, John Mill stated that “human beings have faculties more elevated than the animal appetites, and when once made conscious of them, do not regard anything as happiness which does not include their gratification” (38). Based on this statement, it is evident that Mill believed that happiness is pleasure, that without pleasure and gratification, a person would not be able to attain true joy. [...]
[...] Furthermore, since the greatest good comes from that which makes the greatest number happy, it is in the best interest of far more people to approve and sanction homosexual unions all throughout the United States. We live in a society in which we believe in every person's right to be happy, to freedom of speech, religion and expression. This should not be limited due to an individual's sexual orientation, according to the views of utilitarianism. Works Cited Mills, John Stuart. Utilitarianism. New York: Bobbs-Merrill Print. [...]
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