Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities


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Liberal Theories

In reality, John Stuart Mill never had a childhood. In , he secured a job at India House for his year-old son. He also participated in debates, defending the Utilitarian views of his father and the other Philosophic Radicals. In , however, at age 20, Mill suffered a mental crisis that apparently arose from a conflict between loyalty to his father and growing disagreement with some of his Utilitarian ideas. Mill also began to question the adequacy of his unique education. Utilitarians like his father thought these things distracted people from the reasoning necessary to arrive at universal truths in life.

Mill began to read and meet Romantic writers and poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Goethe. They all emphasized the importance of human feelings as a source for truth. Mill also explored history as another source of getting at the truth about how people should live and organize their societies. All this caused Mill to re-evaluate Utilitarianism. What was happiness? Mill thought that it was more than simply pleasure, as Bentham and his father had stated.

Mill asserted that happiness was becoming whatever the individual wanted to be. This required individuals to develop their own minds, feelings, and imagination to become independent, thinking persons. By individuality, Mill did not mean selfish individualism. He argued that to achieve true happiness, individuals should strive not only to develop themselves but also to help others do the same.


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Mill concluded that the role of society, the economy, and government was to enable individuals to achieve their individuality. Harriet Taylor, a wife of a pharmacist and mother of three, strongly supported equal rights for women and other social reforms. These issues, however, did not interest her husband, who provided little intellectual stimulation for her. In , Harriet first met John Stuart Mill at a dinner party in her home.

John Stuart Mill

From this point on, she worked constantly with Mill, helping him write and edit his articles and books. Instead, she devised an odd compromise to share herself with both men. She divided her time between living with her family at home and staying with Mill at a country cottage. This arrangement went on for more than 20 years. When his father died in , Mill experienced a personal liberation from the man who had dominated his life.

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In his economics book, Mill criticized the selfish pursuit of money. Mill argued that wealth should only be a means to achieve the higher goal of individual self-development, what he called individuality. Mill wanted as many as possible to participate as business owners in a free-market economy. This was possible, he wrote, if workers pooled their money to buy out private businesses and operate them as cooperative enterprises. Workers would elect their managers and collect their wages from the profits of the enterprise, which would have to compete with other privately owned businesses.

Mill opposed government central planning, which most European socialists advocated. His vision was every man and woman a business owner. He saw this as a way to help them achieve their self-development and happiness. Today, historians often classify Mill as a Utopian Socialist.

Mill finally married Harriet Taylor in after the death of her husband.

John Stuart Mill - On Liberty

Both of them, however, soon suffered from tuberculosis. Believing he would die before long, Mill spent more time writing his Autobiography. Mill buried her there and erected a monument with a long inscription, praising her. He published this pamphlet-length work without further revision the following year, dedicating it to her.

With the people in control of their governments, however, a new problem arose. Reforming Liberalism: J. Mill's Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities Robert Devigne Abstract This book challenges prevailing interpretations of the political and moral thought of John Stuart Mill and the theoretical underpinnings of modern liberal philosophy.

More This book challenges prevailing interpretations of the political and moral thought of John Stuart Mill and the theoretical underpinnings of modern liberal philosophy. Authors Affiliations are at time of print publication. Robert Devigne, author More Less. Print Save Cite Email Share.


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  • Show Summary Details. Subscriber Login Email Address. Library Card. View: no detail some detail full detail. Chapter 1 The Moderns and Plato. Chapter 2 Liberty and the Just Moral Conscience. If we join the expansive force of distributive justice in a utilitarian climate with the basic role of civil law, the subsidiary principles become the general means to explain the principle of utility, reducing their scope.

    Those differences are very important, who can deny it? But the summit of the legal-political pyramid is so similar…. But its articulation, the submission of rights to utility, is still lacking from the point of view of a fully consequentialist theory of human rights:. He is therefore committed to a criterion for the identification of moral rights which has two components: essential individual good and the general utility of legal or social enforcement. If his theory is to avoid contradiction, it must be shown not merely that these two halves of the criterion may coincide but exceptions for particular cases apart that they cannot diverge, so general utility must always require general rules providing legal or social protection of such forms of individual good for all men.

    Rights and Utilitarianism. John Stuart Mill’s Role in its history

    But this would be something that only the twentieth century could give; the nineteenth had enough with what Bentham and Mill had done. Bentham, Oeuvres , t. Dumont and B. Escamilla ed. Nonsense upon Stilts and other Writings on the French Revolution , ed. Schofield, C. Blamires, Oxford, , pp. Dinwiddy, Bentham , trans. Robson , London, , pp. A detailed exposition of this story can be found in H. Jurisprudence and Political Theory , Oxford, , pp. IV, Madrid, , pp. Pease-Watkin y C.

    The Spirit of Athens: George Grote and John Stuart Mill on Classical Republicanism

    Bentham, Rights, Representation and Reform , p. Harrison, "Bentham, Jeremy", in T. Vergara, "Les deux acceptions du mot loi. Mill, La Nature , Paris, , pp. Hart, London, , Appendix B, 1 and 2, pp. Harrison, Bentham , London, , pp. It is by creating duties and by nothing else that the law can create rights. When the law gives you a right, what does it do? It makes me liable to punishment in case of my doing any of those acts which would have the effect of disturbing you in the exercise of that right. Mill, "Jurisprudence", in Political Writings , Cambridge, , pp.

    See T. Ball, "A note on sources", in J. Mill, Political Writings , p. Mill, "Jurisprudence", p. Mill, "Jurisprudence", pp.

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    X, ed. Robson, London, , p. Mill, Utilitarianism , ed. Mary Warnock, Glasgow, , p. Robson, London, , , p. Mill, Utilitarianism , pp. Constant, Principes de Politique. Premier, n. Jurisprudence and Political Theory , Oxford, , p. Men will say, for example, that they have a right to a good government; which is undeniably true, it being the moral duty of their governors to govern them well.

    But in granting this, you are supposed to have admitted their right or liberty to turn out their governors, and perhaps to punish them […] ; which far from being the same thing, is by no means universally true, but depends upon an immense number of varying circumstances, and is, perhaps, altogether the knottiest question in practical ethics. Also romanticism gave rise to a collectivist particularism of the nation, social class or race. Collective particularism, to the extent that it supplanted individuality, was anti-liberal and led, by the irresistible force of the nature of things, to the totalitarianisms of the 20 th century.

    Mill, Bentham , pp. Mill, Bentham , p. Mill, Utilitarianism , p. Bentham, Principes du Code Civil , Oeuvres , tome 1, chap. II, pp. See F. Dinwiddy, Bentham , pp. Keeton y G. Schwarzenberger, eds. A Symposium , Westport, Conn. Rosen Jeremy Bentham and Representative Democracy. A Study of Constitutional Code , Oxford, , especially pp.

    V , pp. I regard utility as the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions; but it must be utility in the largest sense, grounded on the permanent interests of man as a progressive being. See H. Postema ed. I, Aldershot, , pp. Contents - Previous document - Next document. Outline 1. Rights and utility, according to John Stuart Mill. Full text PDF Send by e-mail. Laroche, Darmstadt, reprinted from Brussel Robson , He had already participate Vergara, "Les deux accep Bentham, Of Also romanticism gave rise to a collectivist particularism of the nat For Hart, Mill failed to solv Notes 1 J.

    Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities
    Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities
    Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities
    Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities
    Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities
    Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities
    Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities Reforming Liberalism: J.S. Mills Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities

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