We have seen how the cornerstone of Mill’s practical view is the principle of utility. According to this principle, the right act is that which maximizes overall welfare. Some of our acts involve our taking part in the practices of everyday, or ‘customary’, morality. Because my child is less likely to attack others if I encourage her to feel proud at her self-control and kindness, and shame and guilt at her cruelty, it makes utilitarian sense to bring her up to feel these emotions at the proper times, and thus to guide her conduct in a utilitarian direction.
As we have already seen, Mill accepts that some parts of customary morality may well be grounded on the promotion of human welfare (SW 1.5; cf. SW 1.4). These include certain ‘secondary principles’, such as principles of justice, which have been initiated and continued reflectively, and tested against alternatives. Other parts of customary
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Publication information: Book title: Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Mill on Utilitarianism. Contributors: Roger Crisp - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 201.
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