The essay topic for our class is : ‘to what extent is it fair to say that in the passages given here, Mill rejects utilitarianism, rather than amending it?
Put that way, there is some bite in the question, but a simpler way of looking at it is to compare and contrast Mill’s version of Utilitarianism versus Bentham’s.
Probably a good way to do that is break the texts down to a number of varying core principles:
One area of comparison is to what extent does Bentham mean by Utilitarianism an almost scientific means of calculating happiness whereas Mill’s suggests there is a more subjective element to estimating what gives pleasure and pain?
To what extent do they differ in their views of how complex the concept of ‘pain/pleasure’ or utility is….why does Mill distinguish between high and lower pleasures and between mental and physical ones? Does this change his account much from Bentham?
Does Mill’s concession that a great many people settle for the lesser pleasures, although knowing of the higher pleasures, not greatly undermine his position, and weaken the Utilitarian argument in a way that Bentham never did?
How do they differ as regards the collective view: Bentham seems to suggest there is no such thing….but what does Mill suggest?
Does Mill’s endorsement of self-sacrifice chime with Bentham’s views or radically differ?