What if we made more people happy?

Lesson Objectives

Appreciate the unique place John Stuart Mill has in British history

Understand why Jeremy Bentham focuses on Ethical Hedonism

Understand how to use the Greatest Happiness Principle to make moral choices

Understand how utlitarianism and deontology compare with each other

Understand the dichotomy between libertarianism and authoritarianism

Understand Mill's Classical Liberal approach to social justice & early Feminism

Key Terms

Philosophical Radicals

Universal Suffrage




State Consequentialism


The Greatest Happiness Principle


Libertarian vs. Authoritarian

The Subjection of Women

Justice (Mill)

A Born Philosopher

The Philosophical Radicals

• Before JS Mill, the Philosophical Radicals arose in British government

• Began their activities in the 1820s — including Mill's father: James Mill

• The Radicals fought for the end of British aristocracy and privilege

• argued for universal suffrage (ie. voting for all), and the end of the British monarchy, House of Lords, & political separation from the Church of England

John Stuart Mill

• Recieved no formal schooling, but was homeschooled by philosophers

• Became a member of Parliament (Liberal Party) like his father

     • Would now be considered Libertarian (Classical Liberal) today

• Thought with Bentham that the best society is the happy society

Modernity: Why can we now aim for happiness? 😊

• Our basic needs have been met by industry, technology, and the economy

• Modern democracy grants us the right to self-determination and autonomy

• Mindfulness, mental health, and well-being are now serious pursuits

The Advantages of a Morality based in Happiness

• Doesn't follow a particular religion (cf. DCT / Natural Law, Wars of Religion)

• Considers large vulnerable groups (cf. Social Contract)

• Works toward the result of happiness, rather than duty or character (cf. Kant)

• Happiness is an intrinsic good — everyone wants to be happy (cf. Aristotle)