At the beginning of Book II of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle tells us that there are two different kinds of human excellences, excellences of thought and excellences of character. When we speak of a moral virtue or an excellence of character, the emphasis is not on mere distinctiveness or individuality, but on the combination of qualities that make an individual the sort of ethically admirable person he is. If someone lacks virtue, she may have any of several moral vices, or she may be characterized by a condition somewhere in between virtue and vice, such as continence or incontinence.
Mill was raised in the tradition of Philosophical Radicalism, made famous by Jeremy Bentham —John Austin —and his father James Mill —which applied utilitarian principles in a self-conscious and systematic way to issues of institutional design and social reform.
Utilitarianism assesses actions and institutions in terms of their effects on human happiness and enjoins us to perform actions and design institutions so that they promote—in one formulation, maximize—human happiness.
As documented in his AutobiographyMill was groomed from birth by his father to become the ultimate Victorian intellectual and utilitarian reformer. As part of this apprenticeship, Mill was exposed to an extremely demanding education, shaped by utilitarian principles.
While Mill followed the strict intellectual regimen laid down by his father for many years, he suffered a profound intellectual and emotional crisis in the period — As Mill emerged from his depression, he became more concerned with the development of well-rounded individuals and with the role of feeling, culture, and creativity in the happiness of individuals see Essays on moral development the philosophy of moral Though Mill never renounced the liberal and utilitarian tradition and mission that he inherited from his father, his mental crisis and recovery greatly influenced his interpretation of this tradition.
He became critical of the moral psychology of Bentham and his father and of some of the social theory underlying their plans for reform.
It is arguable that Mill tends to downplay the significance of his innovations and to underestimate the intellectual discontinuities between himself and his father. We need to try to understand the extent of the transformation Mill brings to the utilitarian and liberal principles of the Radicals.
Bentham begins his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation with this hedonistic assumption about human motivation. Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure Principles I 1. Bentham allows that we may be moved by the pleasures and pains of others.
But he appears to think that these other-regarding pleasures can move us only insofar as we take pleasure in the pleasure of others V In his unfinished Constitutional CodeBentham makes this commitment to psychological egoism clear.
On the occasion of every act he exercises, every human being is led to pursue that line of conduct which, according to his view of the case, taken by him at the moment, will be in the highest degree contributory to his own greatest happiness.
So the version of psychological egoism to which he is attracted is psychological hedonism. He may see it as a generalization from his observations about the motives underlying human behavior. James Mill also treats psychological hedonism as axiomatic in his Essay on Government The desire, therefore, of that power which is necessary to render the persons and properties of human beings subservient to our pleasures, is the grand governing law of human nature.
But these concessions to psychological pluralism are exceptional. Even in contexts where Bentham recognizes motivation that is not ultimately self-interested, he appears to treat it as weaker and less dependable than self-interested motivation Book of Fallacies — Bentham claims that utility not only describes human motivation but also sets the standard of right and wrong Principles I 1.
By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question ….
Principles I 2 It remains to be determined whose happiness matters. One might imagine that it is the utility of the agent. This would be the ethical counterpart to psychological egoism. Bentham says that our account of right action, obligation, and duty ought to be governed by the principle of utility I 9— This seems to imply that an action is right or obligatory just insofar as it promotes utility.
But then the right or obligatory act would seem to be the one that promotes utility the most or maximizes utility. For these reasons, it is common to understand Bentham as combining psychological hedonism and hedonistic utilitarianism. Bentham is not unaware of this tension.
He addresses part of the problem in the political context in other writings, notably his Plan for Parliamentary Reform In the political context, the problem is how we can get self-interested rulers to rule in the interest of the governed, as utilitarianism implies that they should.
We can reconcile self-interested motivation and promotion of the common good if we make rulers democratically accountable to all those whom they govern, for this tends to make the interest of the governed and the interest of the governors coincide.
Each person acts only or predominantly to promote his own interests.
The proper object of government is the interest of the governed. Hence, rulers will pursue the proper object of government if and only if their interests coincide with those of the governed.
Hence, rulers must be democratically accountable. It was this reasoning that led Bentham and James Mill to advocate democratic reforms that included extending the franchise to workers and peasant farmers.
In Principles Chapter IV Bentham sets out his conception of pleasure and utility in more detail, distinguishing between intrinsic and relational dimensions of pleasures. For our purposes, some dimensions matter more than others.
Hedonism says that pleasure is the one and only intrinsic good and that pain is the one and only intrinsic evil. All other things have only extrinsic or instrumental value depending on whether and, if so, how much pleasure or pain they produce.Moral Philosophy is the rational study of the meaning and justification of moral claims.
A moral claim evaluates the rightness or wrongness of an action or a person’s character. For example, “Lying is wrong” claims the act of lying is wrong, while “One shouldn’t be lazy” claims a . In Moral Relativism, Moral Diversity and Human Rights, James Kellenberger addresses different sorts of theories of morality, such as moral absolutism, moral pluralism, and moral relativism.
Before I take any position on the issues raised by the differences between these various approaches, I need to offer a definition of morality. Jan 19, · Pre Order The Philosophy of Moral Development: Moral Stages and the Idea of Justice (Essays on Moral Development, Volume 1) Lawrence Kohlberg Read .
Piaget’s views on moral development of children are not given under a tightly-knit theory, but are put together in his seminal work The Moral Judgment of the Child, published in According to Piaget, the moral makeup of a child is a product of his/her own conception and understanding of the world.
- The Philosophy of Moral Development: Moral Stages and the Idea of Justice Essays on Moral Development, Volume 1 by Lawrence Kohlberg. Running Head: Traditional versus Modern Ethics Response Historical Developments of Moral and Political Philosophy Farzeela Faisal Abstract Moral Philosophy is often written as though the history of the subject were only of secondary and incidental importance.