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Mill’s Theory of Utilitarianism in essence is an ethical theory where the best outcome is one which maximizes utility, and is foundation of morals. Mill defines Utility or ‘The Greatest Happiness Principle’, which holds that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness (9).” According to his theory, utility is pleasure with the absence of pain, and those are the only things desirable and “good”. He structures his argument in a way so as to disprove misconceptions about utilitarianism and thus define the principles by which utilitarianism functions. This paper will evaluate one such theory- the theory that supposes utilitarianism as a doctrine ‘fit for swine’, and how Mill objects it in terms of Utilitarianism. 

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One of the theories which Mill suggests is a misconception of Utilitarianism (as he describes it) is that it is a ‘doctrine fit for swine.’ This theory in essence “supposes human beings to be capable of no pleasures except those of which swine are capable(10).” According to this, Utilitarianism “supposes that life has (as they express it) no higher end than pleasure (11),” particularly things such as virtue and knowledge, which should be considered more important than pleasure. It is referred to a doctrine ‘fit for swine’ as it supposedly regards only physical pleasure as valuable and not intellectual pleasure. Mill objects this theory by providing two arguments to dispel any negative misconceptions about utilitarianism- few human beings would consent to turn into a “lower animal … for a promise of the fullest allowance of a beast’s pleasures (11).”; and that there is a “higher ground.. where some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others (11-12).” 

The first objection to the ‘doctrine fit for swine’ is that humans and pigs are differently constituted, and hence human needs of enjoyment are inherently different from what pigs need in order to experience pleasure. Us human beings are capable of experiencing mental pleasures unlike swine. According to Mill, human beings have “faculties more elevated than the animal appetites,”and once they become aware of this property, they do not consider anything as happiness unless it includes their gratification.