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One may respond that this problem results from an anachronistic understanding of utilitarianism, and that it disappears if one abstains from imputing modern philosophical concepts on a philosopher of the nineteenth century. For it is not clear whether Mill’s value theory was indeed hedonistic (see Brink 1992).
His view of theory of life was monistic: There is one thing, and one thing only, that is intrinsically desirable, namely pleasure.
In contrast to a form of hedonism that conceives pleasure as a homogeneous matter, Mill was convinced that some types of pleasure are more valuable than others in virtue of their inherent qualities.
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 ().
So, Mill focuses on consequences of actions and not on rights nor ethical sentiments.
This article primarily examines the central ideas of his text he claims to have introduced the word “utilitarian” into the English language when he was sixteen. Beginning in the 1830s he became increasingly critical of what he calls Bentham’s “theory of human nature”.In view of the fact that Mill’s value theory constitutes the center of his ethics (Donner 1991, 2009), the problem of determining its precise nature and adequate naming has attracted considerable attention over the last 150 years.Mill defines "utilitarianism" as the creed that considers a particular “theory of life” as the “foundation of morals” (CW 10, 210).The two articles “Remarks on Bentham’s Philosophy” (1833) and “Bentham” (1838) are his first important contributions to the development of utilitarian thought.Mill rejects Bentham’s view that humans are unrelentingly driven by narrow self-interest.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’. Its goal is to justify the utilitarian principle as the foundation of morals.This principle says actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote overall human happiness.Today we routinely differentiate between hedonism as a theory of the good and utilitarianism as a consequentialist theory of the right.Mill, however, considered both doctrines to be so closely intertwined that he used the term ‘utilitarianism’ to signify both theories.