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What makes utilitarianism peculiar, according to Mill, is its hedonistic theory of the good (CW 10, 111). For this reason, Mill sees no need to differentiate between the utilitarian and the hedonistic aspect of his moral theory.Modern readers are often confused by the way in which Mill uses the term ‘utilitarianism’.The work first appeared in 1861 as a series of three articles for , a journal that, though directed at an educated audience, was by no means a philosophical organ.
He believed that a “desire of perfection” and sympathy for fellow human beings belong to human nature.
One of the central tenets of Mill’s political outlook is that, not only the rules of society, but also people themselves are capable of improvement.
arose from unpublished material, the greater part of which he completed in the final years of his marriage to Harriet Taylor, that is, before 1858.
For its publication he brought old manuscripts into form and added some new material.
Even if the circumstances of the genesis of this work gesture to an occasional piece with a popular goal, on closer examination turns out to be a carefully conceived work, rich in thought.
One must not forget that since his first reading of Bentham in the winter of 1821-22, the time to which Mill dates his conversion to utilitarianism, forty years had passed.
Mill counts as one of the great classics of utilitarian thought; but this moral theory deviates from what many contemporary philosophers consider core features of utilitarianism.
This explains why the question whether Mill is a utilitarian is more serious than it may appear on first inspection (see Coope 1998).
Taken this way, was anything but a philosophical accessory, and instead the programmatic text of a thinker who for decades had understood himself as a utilitarian and who was profoundly familiar with popular objections to the principle of utility in moral theory.
Almost ten years earlier (1852) Mill had defended utilitarianism against the intuitionistic philosopher William Whewell ().