*** HANDOUT: Mill’s proof, first stage ***
- Stage 1: Your pleasure is good for you
- attempts to place this proof between 2 extremes
- arbitrary proof, pure subjectivism
- rationalism, pure reason tells us what is good
- Mill rejects both, relies on experience
- desires: certain kinds of experiences are evidence of value
- objection: people often seem to desire things that aren’t good
- response: desires are defeasible evidence of value (can be wrong)
- the desire to be rich: many people don’t desire wealth for its own sake; rather they desire it as a means to feel pleasure
- what about the heroin addict? the desire mechanism is malfunctioning
- to do this, Mill attempts to prove that it is not possible for anyone to desire anything for its own sake except his own pleasure (psychological hedonism). Can this be true?
- Response to objections: when you get what you want you experience pleasure — if this is true, then doesn’t that prove that we desire the things that give us pleasure for themselves?
Stage 2: Prove that your pleasure is the only thing intrinsically good for you
Mill’s response to counter-examples: people can only desire their own pleasure for its own sake; furthermore people can desire virtue and money for its own sake.