Liberalism: Quotes from 'Utilitarianism' by John Stuart (J.S.) Mill

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A2 Government & Politics Liberalism
Utilitarianism (1863) - John Stuart Mill
"universal first principle as the origin and ground of moral obligation; it is this:-- `So act, that
the rule on which thou actest would admit of being adopted as a law by all rational beings.'"
"Questions of ultimate ends are not amenable to direct proof. Whatever can by proved to be
good, must be so by being shown to be a means to something admitted to be good without
"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."
"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates
dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is
because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison
knows both sides."
"Men lose their high aspirations as they lose their intellectual tastes, because they have not
time or opportunity for indulging them; and they addict themselves to inferior pleasures, not
because they deliberately prefer them, but because they are either the only ones to which
they have access, or the only ones which they are any longer capable of enjoying."
"In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth, we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility.
To so as one would be done by, and to love one's neighbour as oneself, constitute the ideal
perfection of utilitarian morality."
Unit 3 ­ Introducing Political IdeologiesPage 1


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