Despite making valid claims on justice, John Stuart Mill ‘s attempt toreconcile justice and utility is not successful. Mill explains how justicedictates certain actions and results; however, he does not thoroughly explainhow each aspect promotes the most utility for all.
In other words, Milldescribes how the different interpretations of justice are often interpreted,while explaining that there is too individual interpretation, he demonstrateshow justice cannot be reconciled with utility. Mill begins his argument bygiving five interpretations of justice. First, is the notion that it is”unjust to deprive a person of their liberty, property, or any other thingwhich belongs to him”(Mill, 43). Next he goes on to describe how justice, wheninterpreted as a legal right, should always be upheld and thoroughly obeyed. Mill attacks this claim by explaining that laws are sometimes unjust, and thatmost laws follow the general laws of what is morally right. Thus in mostinstances, as Mill claims, laws are not needed.
He then goes on to examine theclaim that justice can be correlated to what one “deserves”(Mill, 44). Thisclaim also leaves too much room for individual pleasure. The next rule ofjustice Mill discusses refers to the notion of faith. According to Mill thisrule is, “not regarded as absolute, but as capable of begin overruled by astronger obligation of justice on the other side.
. . “(Mill, 44). Lastly, Millexplains how being “partial” is not in accordance with justice. Bydisallowing partiality, a general interpretation of justice warrantsimpartiality, which then would in turn promote the most utility for all.
According to Mill the notion that justice promotes “impartiality” is acontradiction. Mill declares that “equality”, which emerges fromimpartiality, cannot exist in a hierarchical society. Furthermore, he says that,”those who think that utility requires distinctions of rank do not consider itunjust that riches and social privileges should be unequally dispensed”(Mill,45). Mill conveys the idea that justice has a flaw in that is allows fordifferent people to have different levels of utility.
This placing of onegroup’s desires for utility above another’s is congruent to the act-utlilitarian’sclaim that all actions should are determined by their consequences. Thus, underact-utilitarianism one may be impartial as long his or actions promote the bestconsequences, which in this case would deprive not promote a shred utility. Inconclusion, Mill reiterates that does not have a clear understanding of thecommon link between the different interpretations of justice. He states,”among so many diverse applications of the term ?justice’, which yet isnot regarded as ambiguous, it is a matter of some difficulty to seize the mentallink which holds them together, and on which the moral sentiment adhering to theterm essentially depends”(Mill, 45).