Notes and Quotes for John Stuart Mill

Notes and Quotes
Greg Lombana
John Stuart Mill
Chapter 3: Of the Ultimate Sanction of the
Principle of Utility
• Sanctions: the punishments that utilitarianist philosophy may impose when deviated
• Utilitarianism can impose sanctions in the form of one’s feelings, meaning that one’s
own mind can create discomfort when one violates their utilitarian duties.
• Internal sanctions: these feelings of discomfort that result from deviating from
duties can go on to influence one’s actions if their “moral nature” has been sufficiently
• Mill acknowledges that some people are more likely to adhere to moral principles if
they are not rooted in subjective feelings, but rather in objective facts.
• Mill believes that regardless of objective fact, one’s ultimate drive to adhere to moral
principle is rooted in their own subjective feelings, thus making internal sanctions the
most powerful.
John Stuart Mill
Chapter 3: Of the Ultimate Sanction of the
Principle of Utility
• If internal sanctions are the most powerful influencer over one’s actions, then
utilitarianism must appeal to one’s conscientious feelings, aka. inner sentiments.
• Mill says that moral feelings are acquired, and they are a natural outgrowth of human
• Artificial moral feelings are imposed rather than naturally developed or cultivated.
• Artificial moral feelings dissolve under the scrutiny of analysis.
• Natural sentiment will nurture feelings that promote utilitarianism.
• Humans do not necessarily have feelings that promote utilitarianism, but Mill believes
that when people are educated to embrace utilitarianism, they would develop natural
sentiment to promote social utility out of fear of feeling guilty when they do not act in
such a way that promotes this social utility.
• Mill says that a successful moral theory is one that will resonate with its practitioner’s
natural sentiments, otherwise it will dissolve under scrutinous analysis.
Emmanuel Kant GMM - Chapter 1
• Duties should be undertaken out of "reverence" for "the law."
• Remember that the function of humans is to act and think rationally; Any organism can
act out of instinct but only a rational being can recognize a general moral law and act
on it simply because it is rational to do so.
• The "reverence" for law that a rational being has is the moral motivation of a person
who recognizes that the law is an imperative of reason (rational because it’s rational)
that transcends all other concerns and interests, such as one’s internal emotions and
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