PHL 204-07

Handout: the structure of Mill’s “proof”

Ordinary sense of proof: a proof in this sense consists of an argument — a series of statements which give us reason to believe the conclusion

    Three stages to Mill’s Proof

  1. Prove that for each person, his pleasure is a “good” for him
  2. The only proof possible for something being desirable is that people actually desire it (experiential proof). Mill assumes that desires are evidence of desirability or value.

      Possible problems

    • Desire to kill then eat those you have killed? (defective desire)
  3. Prove that for each person, her pleasure is the only thing intrinsically good for her
  4. Prove that since hedonism is true, his theory of right action is true (Mill assumes this)
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