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Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Mill on Utilitarianism (Routledge Philosophy Guidebooks) Paperback – 31 Jul 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (31 July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415109787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415109789
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"[Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Mill on Utilitarianism] is elegantly and clearly written, and Crisp provides sensible interpretations with a careful eye both for difficulties in determining what Mill really believed, and for problems in the very ideas he attributes to Mill."
"The interpretations of Mill are sensible and clear-headed, and the criticisms of Mill judicious.
-Thomas Hurka, University of Calgary

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars A utile supplement 29 April 2016
By HH - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Roger Crisp has achieved the difficult task of writing an introductory work that is scholarly yet clear, lively and approachable. In other words, it is a book in a tradition that is especially important as philosophy becomes more technical and remote, that of making erudition accessible and interesting to the beginner or non-specialist. Most of the material naturally concerns the detailed interpretation of Mill's position. The result is a book containing the discussion of much that is relevant to anyone interested in ethics, as well as being a critical but sympathetic guide to Mill. For example, a considerable part of the book is concerned with the nature of human welfare, with what counts as good for us and makes our lives satisfying. Is it to be understood in terms of having certain kinds of experience, such as pleasure; or in terms of the satisfaction of desires; or is it, as Crisp argues, better seen as concerning a wider range of values such as friendship, autonomy and accomplishments? Once the notion of welfare is established the utilitarian will of course use it for the account of morally right action by requiring that its production be maximized, but it is a further question to ask exactly how this requirement is to be understood. Are we to concern ourselves primarily with people's actions or with their characters? Should we think in terms of the actual or probable outcomes of our actions? Should our moral reflections consider the value of the consequences of single actions or of abiding by general rules of behavior? Inevitably, too, issues arise regarding the extent to which utilitarianism clashes or coheres with our ordinary moral views, and indeed with our ordinary understanding of the necessary conditions for our being able to regard our own lives as worthwhile. Here, in the light of recent discussion, Crisp brings out well the difficulties that arise for utilitarianism from its exclusive concern with the aggregate of the good, and from its failure to respond as we would wish to the particular claims someone might have, perhaps based on justice or a special relationship to the agent. Finally, there are two chapters which go beyond Mill's essay on utilitarianism -- though not beyond the influence of the theory -- that look at his works entitled "On Liberty" and "The Subjection of Women".

Contrary to the claim on the back cover, studying Crisp's book will not be painless, any more than other worthwhile study; but short of expecting it thus to overturn the human condition it is warmly recommended.
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