PHIL 440A: Study Questions on Mill, Williams, and Hospers



Questions on Mill:


(1) According to Mill, what is the only thing desirable for its own sake?


(2) What is the Greatest Happiness Principle?


(3) What is Mill's response to those who claim that Utilitarianism is a doctrine for swine?  How does he determine that higher pleasures are more important to happiness than lower pleasures?


(4) Why does Mill think Utilitarianism is required by the Golden Rule?


(5) Why does Mill say that "the motive has nothing to do with the morality of the action"?(163)


(6) Why does Mill think that the Utilitarian can agree that virtue is good for its own sake?


(7) What does Mill think justice includes?  What is Mill's account of justice?


Questions on Williams:


(1) What is the "strong doctrine of negative responsibility"?


(2) What is the point of the example of George?


(3) What is the point of the example of Jim and Peter (Williams calls him "Pedro")?  Why does Williams think it shows that utilitarianism alienates us from our moral feelings?


(4) What does Williams mean by integrity?  Why does Williams think direct utilitarianism makes integrity as a value unintelligible? 


(5) Why does Williams believe that Jim's feelings against killing the one cannot be adequately understood within a utilitarian framework?  [Hint:  Why must a utilitarian regard them as "self-indulgent squeamishness"?]


(6) What is the point of the example of the racial minority?


(7) Why does Williams think that utilitarianism alienates us from our self?


Questions on Hospers:


(1) In the dialogue, what positions do Y and X represent?


(2) What is the point of the baseball analogy?


(3) On Hospers' account, evaluating acts depends on evaluating rules.  How does one determine whether two examples are the same in the relevant respects?  Use the example of the pacifist to explain Hospers' account of relevant and irrelevant differences. 


(4) In what sense is Hospers' rule utilitarianism relativistic and in what sense is it not?


(5) Why is Hospers' rule utilitarianism not equivalent to act utilitarianism?