Can A Utilitarian have Friends?
What exactly is a utilitarian? Some people would call utilitarianism a belief that "the ends justify the means". But when it comes down to it, isn't utilitarianism really just some set of values, and a belief in doing what is necessary in order to maximize the realization of those values? After all, both "ends" and "means" are in some sense an "event", and you could say that a utilitarian is simply someone who has a theory as to what kinds of events are good, and what kinds of events are bad, and tries to cause good events to happen and bad events not to happen.
Yet, utilitarianism means something, and it means something important. “Pleasure and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends.” This quote by John Stuart Mill is the essence of utilitarian thought. In life, there are two things in which to aim for, pleasure and happiness. But whose happiness and whose pleasure? Desire and happiness are the underlying themes, in which nothing else, besides promoting the common good, comes before it.
Mill's argument for utilitarianism holds that pleasure is the only thing desired and that, therefore, pleasure is the only thing desirable. Critics argue that this is like saying that things visible are things seen, or that the only things audible are things heard. A thing is "visible" if it can be seen and "desirable" if it ought to be desired. Thus the word "desirable" presupposes an ethical theory: we cannot infer what is desirable from what is desired. This criticism, however, reads the word "desirable" as "able to be desired" rather than "worth being desired", and does not take into account the moral assessment that must take place in order to categorize something as "desirable", which does not occur when categorizing the same thing as "visible" or "audible".
Yet, it is not only happiness, it is the principle of “the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.” If something makes you happy, does it make...