PromoteDignity.Org


In John Stuart Mills' Utilitarianism, an unmistakably moral term is left unreduced in the analysis of ethics. Though he concludes that the best action is that which produces the greatest pleasure for the greatest number, his comfort with this conclusion rests firmly in the notion of dignity.

It is this fact of human dignity that makes something like a hedonic calculus remotely ethical at all.

Supposition 1-Basic Goodness

What makes a particular pleasure greater than another is the degree to which it coheres with the pleased's sense of inherent dignity, i.e., one's basic sense of worth as a human person. It is from this sense of worth qua person, that the dignified are compelled to treat others with that same dignity deserved by all  persons.

Supposition 2: The Problem of Evil

Though Mill argued that the fact of dignity was the preventative force that ensured that people would not take pleasure in that which was beneath them, the facts of history reveal that humans can take pleasure in acts quite different than the humane.

Supposition 3: Suggested Cause

That people take comfort, satisfaction, and pleasure in, or at the expense of, the unnecessary suffering or degradation of another does not bespeak their wickedness. It reveals the defecit of a need to understand self in relation to basic goodness rather than pleasure or power. Pleasure is a decent guide; power a noble servant; each makes a horrible master.