Shakespeare versus Mill

Sandel introduces the two videos in an attempt to challenge the opinion of Mill. According to Mill, it would be arguably better and more preferable to watch the one that is of higher quality or one that belongs to the higher faculty. Mill argues that there are two levels of pleasures, higher pleasures and lower pleasures. If given a chance therefore, people would always prefer the experience that is of higher pleasure every time. According to Mill, Shakespeare is qualitatively higher than Simpsons. Mill argues that the things that are of higher value are not higher because we prefer them; rather, they are preferred because they are qualitatively higher.

However, when students are asked which of the two excerpts they enjoy watching best, most of them choose the Simpson. When asked which one is of higher pleasure, most select the Shakespeare. Controversy arises in that they prefer watching the excerpt that is of lower pleasure. In this case, students seem to prefer enjoy ability over merit. They argue that it is of greater value to view the clip by Shakespeare in the long run. The preference in this case is about merit rather than a tendency to be more enjoyable.

Mill feels that promoting the reading of Shakespeare would be of more utility value than Simpson. He argues that moral feelings may not be part of human nature but should be cultivated. However, such cultivated morals will often crumble upon some form of analysis. A good example is the case discussed in the book. Shakespeare is of a more superior quality. It is for this reason that the students eventually change their opinion upon some prodding to pick the more superior form of art.

I concur with Mill on several levels while at the same time disagree with him on others. Mill argues that a thing is as good as it is able to increase happiness. If something reduces the level of happiness, then it is bad and can be gotten rid of. Similarly, a situation can be termed as good if it reduces unhappiness. Something should be more capable of reducing unhappiness and increasing happiness more than it promotes the negative aspects. In this regard, I agree with him. I would support everything he argues with this regard provided that a good measuring system is obtained. Unluckily there is no such system. Instead, he suggests that an experience is moral if it produces the highest amount of pleasure for the longest amount of time.

While Mill argues that utilitarianism is about happiness, another aspect arises. This aspect is thriving or merit. The aspect of merit or thriving is very string in his explanation of utilitarianism. Mill would prefer watching the Shakespeare clip watching the Simpson clip. Evidently from the evidence presented by the class, the Simpson clip causes more happiness but is more enjoyable. However, however, the Simpson clip is less developmental. It has fewer merits. For this reason, it has arguably less capacity to make one happy and has less utility. His addition of the new aspect of merits makes the aspect of utilitarianism more credible. It gives utilitarianism a whole new level of understanding and judgment.

To explain how desirable happiness is, Mill begins with an illustration. He argues that for something to be viewed as desirable, it must be termed as such by most people who experience it. To prove this he argues that for one to determine if something is viewable, then one must first see it. To determine if it is audible, one must have heard it. Having given these two scenarios, he concludes that one can only determine if something is desirable if it has been desired. In this definition, by desirable he implies worthy of desire. In the other two cases, he implies one that can be seen or heard respectively. To use this explanation to explain worthy of desire rather than one that can be desired is incongruous. He steps out of the rule simply to make a conclusion. In this regard, he fails in making this proof.

I appreciate the aspect putting a dollar value on every aspect. I agree that not all good things bring about the same level of happiness. It would be therefore right to ensure that the event that is selected is the most appropriate one, a decision must be made. Utilitarianism helps us to make this decision. It provides us with something to fall back on in times of crisis. The concept of utilitarianism must arise once in a while in every system. It would be important, for example, to determine the amount of compensation that should be made to an individual’s family after he is killed. It would also be appropriate to measure the suitability of installing certain safety measures for example in a company. If the safety measures costs more than the value of the people whose life is at risk, then it would be an inappropriate measure. The measure would also lose its soundness if it would not be afforded by most companies and they would therefore be required to close down.

Works cited

Michael Sandel, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009

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