"John Stuart Mill: Traditional and Revisionist Interpretations"

Gray, John N.
Display paragraphs in this essay containing:
First Pub. Date
April-June 1979
Literature of Liberty. Vol. ii, no. 2, pp. 7-37. Arlington, VA: Institute for Humane Studies
Pub. Date

1. [1] J. P. Plamenatz, The English Utilitarians, p. 123.

2. [2] Isaiah Berlin, "John Stuart Mill and the Ends of Life," in Four Essays on Liberty, pp. 174 and 189.

3. [3] J. S. Mill, "Utilitarianism," in Utilitarianism, On Liberty and Considerations on Representative Government, p. 50.

4. [4] James Fitzjames Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, p. 176.

5. [5] On Liberty (Everyman edition) p. 72.

6. [6] I owe this quotation to John C. Rees's admirable book, Mill and his Early Critics, p. 31. The most comprehensive and reliable general bibliography of writings on John Stuart Mill is that published in the Mill News Letter. One of the best nineteenth-century criticisms of Mill on liberty is to be found in the Norton Critical Edition of On Liberty, edited by David Spitz, pp. 123-142, reproduced from an anonymous paper in the National Review 8 (1859).

7. [7] Alan Ryan's main contributions are to be found in "Mr. McCloskey on Mill's Liberalism," Philosophical Quarterly 14 (1964); "John Stuart Mill's Art of Living," The Listener, October 21, 1965; The Philosophy of John Stuart Mill; John Stuart Mill; "John Stuart Mill and the Open Society," The Listener, May 17, 1973.

8. [8] Donald G. Brown, "Mill on Liberty and Morality," Philosophical Review 81 (1972): 133-158. Iam indebted also to Brown's papers on "What is Mill's Principle of Utility?" Canadian Journal of Philosophy 3 (1973): 1-12; "Mill's Act-Utilitarianism," Philosophical Quarterly 24 (1974): 67-68; "John Mill: John Rawls," Dialogue 12, 3 (1973): 1-3.

9. [9] J. P. Dryer's contribution, on which Brown draws in part, entitled "Mill's Utilitarianism" may be found in Essays on Ethics, Religion and Society, J. M. Robson, ed., Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, 1969.

10. [10] Lyon's principal contributions are: "J.S. Mill's Theory of Morality," Nous 10 (May 1976); "Human Rights and the General Welfare," Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (Winter 1977); his books, Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism and especially his In the Interest of the Governed, a revisionist interpretation of Bentham's legal and political thought, are relevant to the interpretation of On Liberty.

11. [11] Utilitarianism (Everyman edition) p. 45.

12. [12] This point is made in a perceptive paper by Professor David Copp of Simon Fraser University, entitled "The Iterated-Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill," and delivered to the Canadian Philosophical Association Congress, June 1978.

13. [13] For the argument that Mill is a rule-utilitarian, see J. O. Urmson, "The Interpretation of the Moral Philosophy of J. S. Mill," Philosophical Quarterly 3 (1953).

14. [14] Brown, "Mill on Liberty and Morality," p. 136.

15. [15] Fitzjames Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, p. 28.

16. [16] Leslie Stephen, The English Utilitarians, Vol. III, p. 296.

17. [17] John C. Rees, "A Re-reading of Mill on Liberty," Political Studies 8 (1960), reprinted with an important "Postscript" (1966) in Limits of Liberty, Peter Radcliff, ed. Rees's papers "A Phase in the Development of Mill's Ideas on Liberty," Political Studies 6 (1958); "Was Mill for Liberty?" Political Studies 14 (1966); and, "The Thesis of the 'Two Mills,"' Political Studies 25 (1977), should also be consulted.

18. [18] Rees, in Radcliff, ed. Limits of Liberty, pp. 101-102.

19. [19] Rees, in Radcliff, pp. 101-102.

20. [20] See Brown, "Mill on Harm to Others' Interests," Political Studies.

21. [21] See Radcliff, Limits, pp. 106-107.

22. [22] On Liberty (Everyman edition) p. 132.

23. [23] On Liberty, p. 74.

24. [24] See Herbert L. A. Hart, Law, Liberty and Morality and Patrick Devlin, The Enforcement of Morals.

25. [25] The terminology of 'want-regarding' and 'ideal-regarding' principles derives from Brian Barry's book Political Argument.

26. [26] See Szasz's many publications on involuntary hospitalization as an infringement of human rights.

27. [27] I owe the expression, "hard cases for the harm principle," to Joel Feinberg, who uses it as the title for Chapter 3 of his excellent Social Philosophy where these matters are discussed.

28. [28] The theory of the higher pleasures is expounded by Mill in Utilitarianism, Chapter 2.

29. [29] Mill makes his qualifications to the range of application of his principles on p. 73 of On Liberty (Everyman edition).

30. [30] The terminology of 'positive' and 'negative' liberty is owed to Isaiah Berlin, who develops its sense in his "Two Concepts of Liberty," in Four Essays on Liberty.

31. [31] Thus, Mill observes in the System of Logic (London, 1974 edition, p. 841) "it is said with truth, that none but a person of confirmed truth is completely free." In An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy (London: Longman's, 1865, p. 510) he speaks of "that normal preponderance of love of right, which the best moralists and theologians consider to constitute the true definition of freedom."

32. [32] See Vol. III Principles of Political Economy in the Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, edited by J. M. Robson and V. W. Bladen, Toronto, 1965, p. 804.

33. [33] See Mill's Principles (Toronto edition) pp. 754-755.

34. [34] See Principles, Bk. II, Chapter I: "Of Property," first paragraph, in Collected Works of John Stuart Mill.

35. [35] The claim that Harriet Taylor's influence decisively affected the development of Mill's thought is still alive in much recent work. It is discussed critically by H. O. Pappe in his valuable monograph John Stuart Mill and the Harriet Taylor Myth, which is reviewed by John C. Rees in Political Studies 10 (1962): pp. 198-202.

36. [36] See Lord Robbin's Introduction to Vol. IV Essays on Economics and Society in the Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, edited by J. M. Robson and Lord Robbins, Toronto, 1967, p. xi.

37. [37] See Principles, (Penguin edition) p. 133.

38. [38] This point is discussed in Pedro Schwartz's The New Political Economy of J. S. Mill, p. 103.

39. [39] See Principles (Penguin edition), p. 113 ff.

40. [40] My reference to possessive individualism is, of course, intended to designate C. B. Macpherson's ambitious ideological interpretation of liberalism in his The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism. He gives a more balanced view of liberalism, and an occasionally perceptive account of Mill, in his The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy.

41. [41] See Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom, p. 170; and Friedrich A. Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty, p. 430.

42. [42] Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, p. 430.

43. [43] See for example, Alan Ryan, John Stuart Mill, Chapter 6, for a critical discussion of some of the difficulties in Mill's account of property and distribution.

44. [44] See J.W.N. Watkins, "Three Views Concerning Human Freedom," in Nature and Conduct, Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures Vol. 8, London, 1974.

45. [45] The preceding quotation from Wollheim occurs in his Introduction to the World's Classics Edition of On Liberty, Representative Government and the Subjection of Women, London, 1975, p. xi. The quotation from Halliday comes from his John Stuart Mill, pp. 55-56.

46. [46] Popper's attack on Mill's "psychologism" occurs in Vol. 2 of his The Open Society and Its Enemies, Chapter 14.

47. [47] The controversy surrounding Macaulay's attack on James Mill's Essay on Government has been marvelously presented in Utilitarian Logic and Politics by Jack Lively and John C. Rees.

48. [48] See Hume's Treatise of Human Nature, Bk. I, Part 4, Section 6, for a development of this claim.

49. [49] This passage from Machiavelli is quoted by Stuart Hampshire in a paper relevant to Mill Studies, "Uncertainty in Politics," Encounter (January 1957).

50. [50] See System of Logic, Bk. VI, Chapter VIII, p. 583 (new edition, London, 1930) for this and the preceding quotation.

51. [51] See Mill's Against Comte and Positivism for a development of this claim.

52. [52] See especially the original version of P. K. Feyerabend, "Against Method" in Vol. 4 of Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science: Analyses of Theories and Methods of Physics and Psychology, p. 112.

53. [53] See Rees, "The Thesis of the 'Two Mills,'" Political Studies (1977).

54. [54] Mitchell, Law, Morality, and Religion.

55. [55] P. F. Strawson, "Social Morality and Individual Ideal," Philosophy (1961).

56. [56] J. S. Mill's Autobiography, p. 97.

End of Notes.

Return to top