Title

Mill's Theory of Morality

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-1976

ISSN

1468-0068

Publisher

Wiley

Language

en-US

Abstract

Many have assumed that utilitarianism requires one always to "maximize utility", regarding any other way of acting as wrong. This "Act Utilitarian" doctrine has been criticized for imagining duties where none exist while ignoring special obligations that we bear towards other persons. In recent years, however, "rule utilitarian" theories have said we should judge acts by reference to useful rules, which might account for special obligations and not require one to maximize utility. These developments have influenced our understanding of the classical utilitarians. J. O. Urmson ([15]), for example, reminds us that moral rules and obligations play a prominent role in Mill's Utilitarianism. But his rule utilitarian reading of Mill has not gained wide acceptance, for the evidence he cites seems inconclusive and balanced by further considerations. (See Brown [2], Cupples [3], Mabbott [7], Mandelbaum [8], Quinton [12], and Sosa [14]; compare Dryer [4] and Ryan [13].)

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