According to John Stuart Mill, what does it mean to act rightly or be good? Mill states how people are inclined to act rather than how they should act. He states in his essay written in 1861, Utilitarianism, "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and the privation of pleasure." Mill proves by this statement that we act in a certain way because of the greatest happiness principle; however, I am not convinced that is the way that people should act or the best way to live a moral life. .
Mill believes that people act the way that they do for the sake of happiness. It is even good to cause pain to a small group of people if the result promotes happiness for a larger group. According to Mill, this is the greatest happiness principle because the actions are not based on the feelings of happiness of one but the happiness of the greatest number. I disagree with Mill's greatest happiness principle because this is not the way that people should act. I agree that people tend to act that way; however that is not the moral way that people should behave. There is no rational connection between happiness and morality. The simple truth of the matter is that a behavior or action that makes a person happy is not sufficient in establishing that the behavior or action is morally accurate. .
Just because something makes one person happy does not make it morally correct. Would Mill suggest that it is justified to kill an innocent person to make the majority of the people happy in a murder case? In a rural town in North Carolina, there is a mass murderer on the loose. The terrified citizens want an arrest to be made. To calm the nerves of its citizens, the police pick a person at random and prosecute him in front of everyone by hanging him in the street.