Mill argued that the lower pleasures were of the mind, and the higher of the body.
He felt that, after the lower bodily needs were met we could attend to the higher spiritual, moral, cultural pleasures. (Who decides? Only someone who’s experienced both)
Vardy and Grosch comment:
“On this view, a person who eats and drinks in moderation in order to design elegant, ecologically –sound clothing is morally superior to the person who is anxious to produce quick, profit-making designs in order to pursue the pleasures of sex, food and drink” (1994:79)
W.D. Ross argued that this produces counter-intuitive outcomes
Example: who do we save in the burning bus, our son or a famous heart surgeon who has potential to save thousands?
Ross argued we have a prima facie (before anything else) duty to save our son
Justice demands we keep the rules…unless…there’s some overriding social duty to break it in this individual case eg to save a life
A pragmatic rule utilitarian view?
Or is Mill a virtue ethicist? He argues for maximising “not the agent’s happiness, but the greatest amount of happiness altogether” (1991:142) this requires sympathy and nobleness of character, he argues.
Mill appeals to virtue
Mill concedes that for everyone to accept the utility of society needs “a certain nobleness or generosity of character” (1991:142)
So for social utility to thrive, we need:
Education for all (eg to transcend selfishness)
Elimination of poverty (eg so all can enjoy higher pleasures of music and books)
But you and I wouldn’t necessarily do either. Why?
“A feature of utilitarianism is that it cuts out a kind of consideration…. that each of us is specially responsible for what he does, rather than for what other people do. This is an idea closely connected with the value of integrity."
So Utilitarianism goes against the idea of personal integrity.