This leads us to the first of the questions for utilitarianism posed at the beginning of this chapter. Can utilitarianism provide an adequate guide to action if the ingredients of happiness are many and diverse, and vary from person to person? What sense does it make to prescribe the maximisation of happiness, when there is neither a single nor a simple blueprint for human happiness? There is much less of a problem for dominant-end accounts of happiness. If happiness is reducible to pleasure, then right actions can be straightforwardly identified as those which produce as much pleasure as possible. Or if the development of philosophical wisdom is the key to happy existence, we should do the best we can to turn people into philosophers. But if happiness has many parts, the utilitarian goal appears to defy precise specification. To say only that we should help people to live the happiest possible lives seems unhelpfully vague; yet it is hard to give any more detailed content to the
injunction to assist people to live happily, when happy lives can be lived in so large a variety of ways. Nothing like a Benthamite or Brandtian calculus looks remotely feasible here.