Utilitas 28 (2):189-214 (2016)
AbstractThere is a common view that the utilitarian theory of John Stuart Mill is morally realist and involves a strong kind of practical obligation. This article argues for two negative theses and a positive thesis. The negative theses are that Mill is not a moral realist and that he does not believe in certain kinds of obligations, those involving external reasons and those I callrobustobligations, obligations with a particular, strong kind of practical authority. The positive thesis is that Mill's metaethical position can be interpreted as a Humean constructivist view, a metaethical view that is constructivist about value and entails the existence of practical reasons, but not external reasons or robust obligations. I argue that a Humean constructivist reading of Mill's theory is reasonable, and strengthens Mill's argument from desire for the value of happiness, an important but notoriously weak aspect of his theory.
Archival historyFirst archival date: 2019-06-28
Latest version: 3 (2020-06-23)
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