J. S. Mill's Communal Utilitarian Self

This article presents a reading of Mill in which his view of self is social rather than individualistic. I will provide criticisms of the radically-individualist interpretations of Mill offered by John Gray, R. P. Anschutz, and Robert Wolff. Gray and Anschutz get Mill wrong from the right, and Wolff gets Mill wrong from the left. Mill’s individualism has at times been overstated, leading to a neglect of the importance that he places on positive community influence of moral agents. This heavy emphasis on individual detachment can lead to an (intended or not) impression that Mill’s individual is thoroughly atomistic. An overemphasis on the individualism in Mill neglects the importance of community’s role in nurturing the individual to be united with fellow citizens, to develop sympathetic affections, and to be integrated into a unified web of corroborative associations
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0019-0365
DOI 10.5840/ipq200949225
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