On Millgram on Mill

Utilitas 16:1 (2003), pp. 96–108
In a recent article in Ethics, Elijah Millgram presents a novel reconstruction of J. S. Mill's ‘proof’ of the principle of utility. Millgram's larger purpose is to critique instrumentalist approaches to practical reasoning. His reading of the proof makes Mill out to be an instrumentalist, and Millgram thinks that the ultimate failure of Mill's argument usefully illustrates an inconsistency inherent in instrumentalism. Yet Millgram's interpretation of the proof does not succeed. Mill is not an instrumentalist. Millgram may be right that instrumentalism is incoherent, but he has chosen the wrong figure to illustrate the point.