Mill vs Aristotle: The Summum Bonum That Wasn't

In a previous post, I outlined some significant differences between Mill and Plato on the question of Pleasure, that I think are grounded in a misreading of Plato. Here, I present a few differences between Mill and Aristotle on the summum bonum, right and wrong action, and pleasure. When considering the arguments in Utilitarianism, and the obvious allusions to Plato and Aristotle within it, many seem to me to be incomplete at best, and misguided at worst.

Plato Versus Mill on the Pleasure Principle

…after more than two thousand years the same discussions continue, philosophers are still ranged under the same contending banners, and neither thinkers nor mankind at large seem nearer to being unanimous on the subject, than when the youth Socrates listened to the old Protagoras, and asserted… the theory of utilitarianism against the popular morality of the so-called sophist… ~John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism I wonder, sometimes, if Mill had ever actually read the Protagoras.

Kant vs Mill - Preference and Universality

If you look closely at Mill’s arguments in Utilitarianism, he seems to be making a very strong response to Kant (perhaps against the Groundwork?). Mill accepts the notion of moral duty, just as Kant does. But he insists it derives not from any form of analytic (i.e., Kant’s notion of synthetic a priori) truth. Rather, Mill insists it derives from the apparently universal desire of mankind (individually, in aggregate) to seek its own pleasure.

On David Hume and Susan Feagin

In what way, if any, is Feagin’s solution to the Paradox of Tragedy an improvement on Hume’s solution? Introduction Susan Feagin’s solution to the Paradox of Tragedy is not only not an improvement to Hume’s solution, it is not a solution at all. I will argue that Feagin fails to improve upon Hume’s solution for two key reasons. First, because her solution suffers from the same inscrutability as Hume’s solution.