My aim in this chapter is to place John Stuart Mill’s distinctive utilitarian political philosophy in the context of the debate about luck, responsibility, and equality. I hope it will reveal the extent to which his utilitarianism provides a helpful framework for synthesizing the competing claims of luck and relational egalitarianism. I attempt to show that when Mill’s distributive justice commitments are not decided by direct appeal to overall happiness, they are guided by three main public principles: an impartiality (...) principle, a sufficiency principle, and a merit principle. The question then becomes how luck and relational considerations figure into his articulation of these public principles. I argue that relational egalitarianism is more fundamental than considerations of luck and responsibility in Mill’s thought, but I also hope to show that any fleshed out picture of Mill’s reform proposals must recognize his condemnation of the role luck plays in determining the distribution of opportunities and outcomes. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill had strong sympathies with a liberal form of market socialism based on worker-owned and worker-managed firms. He thought that only very few government interventions were needed to trigger a peaceful and spontaneous transition to such an economic system. This article recapitulates his thesis and argument by focusing on his major work Principles of Political Economy, which is rather neglected by philosophers, especially in the German-speaking world. I will argue that Mill was too optimistic in his hope (...) for a spontaneous transition without government intervention. Since it is possible to reconstruct how Mill thought this transition would proceed, it is also possible to identify at what point the transition did not advance in the way envisioned by him, but was blocked by antagonistic forces. I will argue that this insight is not only of historical value, but still poses a serious problem for John Rawls’s theory of justice. Rawls follows Mill closely in his discussion of the proper economic system and he faces the same problem of transition. (shrink)
The study examines the religious thought and aspirations of John Stuart Mill. Contrary to the conventional view of Mill as the prototypical "secular" liberal, it shows that religious preoccupations dominated Mill's thought and structured his endeavors throughout his life. What must be recognized for a proper appreciation of Mill's thought ell as and legacy is the depth of his animus toward traditional transcendent religion, as well the seriousness of his intent to found a new "secular" or non-theological religion to (...) serve as its replacement. Mill's "religious" aim was two-pronged---the evisceration of Christian belief and the social establishment of the allegedly superior morality and spirituality embodied in the "Religion of Humanity" he adopted, with revisions, from Auguste Comte. Mill intended his philosophical writings to assist in the realization of this aim, and they cannot adequately be comprehended without an awareness of their subterranean religious theme. ;The study examines the influence of James Mill, Bentham, Saint-Simon, and Comte on Mill's religious thought and aims. It examines Mill's Three Essays on Religion; discusses his participation in the "Mansel Controversy"; and offers an interpretation of On Liberty and Utilitarianism from the perspective developed in the study. Both essays are shown to have been employed by Mill as crucial instruments toward the accomplishment of his religious mission. ;The material brought to light in this study requires a far-reaching re-evaluation of Mill's contribution to the development of the liberal tradition. Through his influence the radical anti-Christianity of the French Revolution was incorporated into the Anglo-American tradition. Mill's "non-theological" utilitarianism also involved the equally important, if less dramatic, insinuation of Comtean "altruism" and its notion of the superiority of "social" to personal morality into Anglo-American consciousness. The "social morality" embodied in Mill's Religion of Humanity has been assimilated by large segments of contemporary Anglo-American society and is the ethos that has impelled the rise of modern-liberalism The intense intramundane religiosity that Mill incorporated into the Anglo-American political tradition also casts a new light on the nature of modern "secular" liberalism, the chief political carrier of the new secular religiosity in the American context. (shrink)
In his youth, John Stuart Mill followed his father’s philosophy of persuasion but, in 1830, Mill adopted a new philosophy of persuasion, trying to lead people incrementally towards the truth from their original stand-points rather than engage them antagonistically. Understanding this change helps us understand apparent contradictions in Mill’s cannon, as he disguises some of his more radical ideas in order to bring his audience to re-assess and authentically change their opinions. It also suggests a way of re-assessing the (...) relationship between Mill’s public and private works, to which we should look if we are attempting to understand his thought. (shrink)
In this article Jason Brennan’s arguments about the moral duties relating to our practice of voting are examined. These arguments provide an epistocratic approach of politics and present a conception of abstention at four levels: abstention as a personal choice, as a moral responsibility, as a duty legally enforceable and as an obligation decided by lot. The contrast with John Stuart Mill’s positions helps to highlight the postdemocratic ambivalences and the latent paternalism behind Brennan’s rejection of massive voting and (...) electoral democracy. A deliberative, Millian-inspired understanding of abstention also allows questioning the assumption in Brennan’s successive proposals that there is no significant loss in overlooking the political valence of qualified abstention. (shrink)
Review of "John Stuart Mill: Tres ensayos sobre la religión (La naturaleza; La utilidad de la religión; El teísmo), editado y traducido por Carlos Mellizo, Madrid, Editorial Tecnos, 2012. ISBN 13: 978-84-309-5502-2".
Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill supported Abraham Lincoln against what they called the “Slave Power”. Both thinkers fought for the abolition of slavery, and backed the Union in the American Civil War. Marx spread out his opinions on the war and the future social and political changes in several newspapers, while Mill was active trying to persuade the English public realm to prevent England from joining the South. Both shared an historical vision of the future in which human (...) progress was attached to the United States. However, the aims of both thinkers differed in other grounds. Mill was interested in the moral regeneration of American society whereas Marx focused in instilling the revolutionary desire for emancipation among the working classes, starting in the United States. (shrink)
The paper offers an interpretation of the role the concept of nationality plays in John Stuart Mill’s thought. To that purpose, I consider not only his best-known writings, but also those less frequently studied in the academic literature on that issue. The argument benefits from Quentin Skinner’s methodological insights into the study of the history of political thought. In that sense, I focus on Mill’s System of Logic textual revisions. In doing so, I briefly examine Mill’s intellectual and personal (...) relationship with Auguste Comte and hence the influence of positivism on Mill’s social and political thinking. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill based initially his conception of suicide on Hume's theory and on Bentham's moral arithmetic; nevertheless, he had a transforming experience in his youth, moment in which he longed for ending his life that he overcame reading the English romanticism. This article describes Mill's vision on the suicide, which he purposely silenced, through the conception of romanticism, of Hume and also of Adam Smith. Certainly, in the Theory of Moral Sentiments Smith was bold enough to criticize Hume's (...) famous defense of the suicide; however, in spite of the fact that the influence of The Wealth of the Nations in Mill has been widely studied, the possible influence of Smith’s moral theory in the overcoming of his mental crisis has been overlooked. (shrink)
In my dissertation, I analyze, interpret, and defend John Stuart Mill's proof of the principle of utility in the fourth chapter of his Utilitarianism. My purpose is not to glorify utilitarianism, in a full sweep, as the best normative ethical theory, or even to vindicate, on a more specific level, Mill's universalistic ethical hedonism as the best form of utilitarianism. I am concerned only with Mill's utilitarianism, and primarily with his proof of the principle of utility. My overarching purpose (...) guiding the entire work is to show that Mill proceeds intelligibly and systematically in pursuing a well-defined project in the fourth chapter of Utilitarianism, and that he successfully defends what he sets out to establish in his proof of the principle of utility. To this end, I devote the bulk of my efforts to studying and responding to traditionally popular and persistently enduring objections to the proof that are handed down from one generation to the next in the philosophical community as a standard companion to Utilitarianism. The primary objections to which I respond at length are the charges that Mill commits the naturalistic fallacy, the fallacy of equivocation, and the fallacy of composition in his proof. Secondary literature on the subject consists of journal articles and book chapters that treat one or another but not all of these problems. My research has convinced me that, although these commentaries are generally quite good, they are mutually incompatible, and they are neither severally nor jointly sufficient to produce the kind of comprehensive defense that would do justice to Mill's proof of the principle of utility. This kind of comprehensive defense is what I intend to contribute to secondary literature on the subject. Specifically, my ultimate contribution to secondary literature is an interpretation of Mill's proof of the principle of utility in its entirety, absolved of the three fallacies commonly attributed to the proof, yet faithful to the text at all points. (shrink)
This is a defense of John Stuart Mill’s proof of the principle of utility in the fourth chapter of his Utilitarianism. The proof is notorious as a fallacious attempt by a prominent philosopher, who ought not to have made the elementary mistakes he is supposed to have made. This book shows that he did not. The aim is not to glorify utilitarianism, in a full sweep, as the best normative ethical theory, or even to vindicate, on a more specific (...) level, Mill’s universalistic ethical hedonism as the best form of utilitarianism. The book is concerned only with Mill’s utilitarianism, and primarily with his proof of the principle of utility. The purpose is to show that Mill proceeds intelligibly and systematically in pursuing a well-defined project in the fourth chapter of Utilitarianism, and that he successfully defends what he sets out to establish in his proof of the principle of utility. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill is one of the hallowed figures of the liberal tradition, revered for his defense of liberal principles and expansive personal liberty. By examining Mill's arguments in On Liberty in light of his other writings, however, Joseph Hamburger reveals a Mill very different from the "saint of rationalism" so central to liberal thought. He shows that Mill, far from being an advocate of a maximum degree of liberty, was an advocate of liberty and control--indeed a degree of (...) control ultimately incompatible with liberal ideals.Hamburger offers this powerful challenge to conventional scholarship by presenting Mill's views on liberty in the context of his ideas about, in particular, religion and historical development. The book draws on the whole range of Mill's philosophical writings and on his correspondence with, among others, Harriet Taylor Mill, Auguste Comte, and Alexander Bain to show that Mill's underlying goal was to replace the traditional religious basis of society with a form of secular religion that would rest on moral authority, individual restraint, and social control. Hamburger argues that Mill was not self-contradictory in thus championing both control and liberty. Rather, liberty and control worked together in Mill's thought as part of a balanced, coherent program of social and moral reform that was neither liberal nor authoritarian.Based on a lifetime's study of nineteenth-century political thought, this clearly written and forcefully argued book is a major reinterpretation of Mill's ideas and intellectual legacy. (shrink)
The translation and the commentary of Mr. Muresan are 2 times welcomed. The translation will make known to Romanian reader this important philosopher. The commentary,parts of which I have read in the English translation, is one extremely original and critic,in the scholar sense of the term, a result of a detailed knowledge of ethical works and other works of Mill; he uses the rich critical literature elaborated mostly in the last years and especially by English language philosophers. Mr. Muresan transmits (...) the spirit of this critical tradition; but he surpasses it at the same time with his own daring interpretations. His book is a subtle contribution to research on Mill and on ethics in general, being useful not just in Romania, but anywhere it may be accessible in the philosophical world. (shrink)
Bentham.--Coleridge.--M. de Tocqueville on democracy in America.--On liberty.--Utilitarianism.--From Considerations on representative government.--From An examination of Sir William Hamilton's philosophy, volume 1.--From Three essays on religion.--John Stuart Mill, a select bibliography (p. -530).
First published in 1991, this book attempts to deal with Mill’s thought as a coherent system and tie some elements of his thoughts together. It seeks to show that he developed a set of ethical principles to underlie government intervention and provide a theory as to how it should intervene — which he then applied to practical politics. The first chapters deal with Mill’s doctrine of improvement and what impact the improvement of man has on the social organisation of society. (...) The third chapter deals with Mill’s theory of economic development. The second part of the book deals with policy issues such as the question of the optimal constitution and Mill’s policy proposals for England. (shrink)