Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 33, Issue 1, 2023

Aivaras Stepukonis
Pages 181-194

Re-Thinking Cultural Hedonism
On the Principle of Utility according to John Stuart Mill

Hedonism, driven by mass culture and widespread consumerism, is a salient factor in the modus vivendi of contemporary Western civilization. This general psychological and behavioral backdrop is exploited in the article as an opportunity to both reinvigorate and re-appraise the theoretical underpinnings of modern hedonism as developed by John Stuart Mill in his Utilitarianism. The article proceeds in two steps: Firstly, a detailed exposition of Mill’s arguments for the principle of utility is undertaken, with an accompanying elucidation of the core notions of utility, expediency, happiness, and pleasure. Secondly, five points of criticism (logical, phenomenological, and analytical in method) are raised to challenge what the author thinks are the weakest links in Mill’s syllogistic chain.