The 'Art of Life' is John Stuart Mill's name for his account of practical reason. In this volume, eleven leading scholars elucidate this fundamental, but widely neglected, element of Mill's thought. Mill divides the Art of Life into three 'departments': 'Morality, Prudence or Policy, and Æsthetics'. In the volume's first section, Rex Martin, David Weinstein, Ben Eggleston, and Dale E. Miller investigate the relation between the departments of morality and prudence. Their papers ask whether Mill is a rule utilitarian and, (...) if so, whether his practical philosophy must be incoherent. The second section contains papers by Jonathan Riley and Wendy Donner, who explore the relation between the departments of morality and aesthetics. They discuss issues ranging from supererogation to aesthetic pleasure and humanity's relationship with nature. -/- The papers in the third section consider the Art of Life's axiological first principle, the principle of utility. Elijah Millgram contends that Mill's own life refutes his claim that the Art of Life has a single axiological first principle. Philip Kitcher maintains that Mill has a dynamic axiology requiring us to continually refine our conception of the good. In the final section, three papers address what it means to put the Art of Life into practice. Robert Haraldsson locates an 'Art of Ethics' in On Liberty that is in tension with the Art of Life. Nadia Urbinati plumbs the classical roots of Mill's view of the good life. Finally, Colin Heydt develops Mill's suggestion that we regard our own lives as works of art. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that the reading of Mill that D.G. Brown presents in ‘Mill’s Moral Theory: Ongoing Revisionism’ is inconsistent with several key passages in Mill’s writings. I also show that a rule-utilitarian interpretation that is very close to the one developed by David Lyons is able to account for these passages without difficulty.
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. (shrink)
In 'Axiological Actualism' Josh Parsons argues that 'axiological actualism', which is 'the doctrine that ethical theory should refrain from assigning levels of welfare, or preference orderings, or anything of the sort to merely possible people', lends plausibility to 'the converse intuition'. This is the proposition that 'the welfare a person would have, were they actual, can give us a reason not to bring that person into existence'. I show that Parsons's argument delivers less than he promises. It could be convincing (...) only to actualists who hold certain views about normative ethics, and could at most convince them to heed the converse intuition only under certain circumstances. (shrink)
Insofar as John Stuart Mill can be accurately described as a socialist, his is a socialism that a classical liberal ought to be able to live with, if not to love. Mill's view is that capitalist economies should at some point undergo a `spontaneous' and incremental process of socialization, involving the formation of worker-controlled `socialistic' enterprises through either the transformation of `capitalistic' enterprises or creation de novo. This process would entail few violations of core libertarian principles. It would proceed by (...) way of a series of voluntary transactions. Capitalists' property rights would be respected throughout. The process would take place within a national system of laws that permits private ownership of productive property and competition, and would not result in that system's overthrow. And, if we accept some basic tenets of Mill's social philosophy, the outcome at which we should expect the process to arrive is a `patchwork' economy in which capitalistic and socialistic enterprises exist side by side. Key Words: Ludwig von Mises John Stuart Mill socialism capitalism worker control. (shrink)
Mill's discussion of ‘the internal sanction’ in chapter III of Utilitarianism does not do justice to his understanding of internal sanctions; it omits some important points and obscures others. I offer an account of this portion of his moral psychology of motivation which brings out its subtleties and complexities. I show that he recognizes the importance of internal sanctions as sources of motives to develop and perfect our characters, as well as of motives to do our duty, and I examine (...) in some detail the various ways in which these sanctions give rise to motivating desires and aversions. (shrink)