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)
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has argued that rock and roll happens from the neck down. In this contribution to The Rolling Stones and Philosophy, edited by Luke Dick and George Reisch, I draw on neuroscience to argue that, in the parlance of John Stuart Mill, rock and roll is both a higher and a lower pleasure.
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 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)
The Philosophy of John Stuart Mill demonstrates that Mill both saw his views as part of a systematic defense of empiricist epistemology and utilitarian ethics, and was to a large extent successful in offering a coherent and connected defense of this system. At the time Alan Ryan's highly acclaimed study was first published, it was unusual in insisting on the systematic character of Mill's philosophy. Since 1970, however, many writers have contributed to a more systematic understanding of Mill's program (...) for philosophy, ethics and social science, and Alan Ryan's new preface to the second edition assesses the way Mill appears in this new climate of opinion. (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)
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)
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)
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".
Bien que John Stuart Mill et Jeremy Bentham aient été considérés comme d’illustres exemples de « Philosophes radicaux », leurs exigences en matière de réforme sociale et politique étaient basées sur des points de vue différents. Comparée à celle de Bentham, l’analyse de Mill concernant le principe d’utilité et de démocratie représentative présente certains traits « perfectionnistes » et « élitistes ». La présente étude se propose d’examiner ceci à la lumière de la réception et de la réponse de (...) Mill aux idées de Bentham sur la politique. Bien que Mill fût, en partie, un partisan enthousiaste de Bentham, et qu’il lui attribuât le mérite de promouvoir les réformes juridiques et politiques, il semble avoir commencé, à partir de 1833, à évaluer ouvertement Bentham de façon critique. Ceci peut être perçu dans ses discussions et sa relation intellectuelle avec George Grote, qui était aussi un politicien et un historien utilitariste. L’accent mis par Mill sur le rôle essentiel de « l’éducation sociale du peuple » dans la promotion de l’esprit public fut développé dans des dialogues avec Grote et l’examen de ses études historiques. La présente étude conclut que Grote fit preuve de plus de sympathie envers Bentham que Mill, dans l’approche théorique aussi bien que dans l’approche pratique. Bien que tous les trois fussent vraiment dévoués à la même cause radicale, ils avaient toutefois des visions différentes de la crise de la démocratie parlementaire. L’examen du contexte de sa relation intellectuelle avec Grote fournit l’une des sources permettant de comprendre le défi jeté par Mill aux idées de Bentham relatives à la réforme politique. (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)
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)
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)
The revolutionary outbreak in a variety of civilizations centered around 600 B.C.E., a period in which the great world religions as well as philosophy emerged, from Hebrew scriptures and the teachings of Buddha to the works of Greek and Chinese philosophers, has been named the Axial Age by Karl Jaspers. Yet 75 years earlier, in 1873, unknown to Jaspers and still unknown to the world, John StuartStuart-Glennie elaborated a fully developed and more nuanced theory of what he (...) termed The Moral Revolution to characterize the period. -/- This book also brings to light the previously undiscussed ideas of D. H. Lawrence on the phenomenon from 20 years before Jaspers, the seldom mentioned contributions of Lewis Mumford, and proposes a new context for understanding the phenomenon. Halton rewrites the history of this fascinating theory and opens new ways of conceiving the meaning of The Moral Revolution for today. (shrink)
This chapter examines the lost legacy of John Stuart-Glennie (1841-1910), a contributor to the founding of sociology and a major theorist, whose work was known in his lifetime but disappeared after his death. Stuart-Glennie was praised by philosopher John Stuart Mill, was a friend of and influence upon playwright George Bernard Shaw, and was an active contributor to the fledgling Sociological Society in London in the first decade of the twentieth century. Stuart-Glennie’s most significant idea in (...) hindsight was his theory of what he termed in 1873, “the moral revolution,” delineating the revolutionary changes across different civilizations in the period 2,500 years ago, roughly centered around 500-600 BCE. This is the era currently known as “the axial age,” after Karl Jaspers coined that term in 1949. Stuart-Glennie’s theory of the moral revolution is framed within a three-stage view of history, the first of which involved an outlook he characterized as “panzooinism,” and sometimes as “naturianism.” This theory of aboriginal and early civilizational outlooks is also notable and worthy of consideration in contemporary context, and as a contribution to “the new animism.” The chapter concludes by considering whether the moral revolution/axial age, whose effects have continued for the past 2500 years, is sustainable in the age of the unsustainable Anthropocene. (shrink)
In 1873, 75 years before Karl Jaspers published his theory of the Axial Age in 1949, unknown to Jaspers and to contemporary scholars today, Scottish folklorist John StuartStuart-Glennie elaborated the first fully developed and nuanced theory of what he termed “the Moral Revolution” to characterize the historical shift emerging roughly around 600 BCE in a variety of civilizations, most notably ancient China, India, Judaism, and Greece, as part of a broader critical philosophy of history. He continued to (...) write on the idea over decades in books and articles and also presented his ideas to the fledgling Sociological Society of London in 1905, which were published the following year in the volume Sociological Papers, Volume 2. This article discusses Stuart-Glennie’s ideas on the moral revolution in the context of his philosophy of history, including what he termed “panzooinism”; ideas with implications for contemporary debates in theory, comparative history, and sociology of religion. It shows why he should be acknowledged as the originator of the theory now known as the axial age, and also now be included as a significant sociologist in the movement toward the establishment of sociology. -/- . (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)
El presente artículo tiene por objeto precisar la naturaleza del antagonismo que Mill reivindica a lo largo de su obra como uno de los remedios más eficaces a la hora de combatir el estancamiento político, intelectual y moral que amenaza a las sociedades modernas. El análisis se concentra principalmente en las notas de perpetuidad y sistematicidad que Mill le asigna y presenta al antagonismo como uno de los componentes del "liberalismo avanzado" al que él mismo decía suscribir.