Mill, John Stuart: Ethics and politics

J.S.Mill Ethics and politics R.F.Khan ON LIBERTY John Stuart Mill’s mature views on ethics and politics are to be found in On Liberty (published in 1859), Utilitarianism (1861), Considerations on Representative Government (1861) and The Subjection of Women (written in 1861–2 but published in 1869). Of these, Liberty is the centrepiece, detailing the doctrines and themes which govern most of the discussion in the other works. It is also the work by which Mill will be most remembered. He himself picked it out as ‘likely to survive longer than anything else’ that he had written.1 It has aroused more controversy than any other of his writings, and the essay On Liberty has been taken by many of Mill’s critics as well as his supporters to be the most distinctive if not authoritative statement of the liberal position.2 In Mill’s words, the subject of the essay is ‘moral, social, and intellectual liberty asserted against the despotism of society whether exercised by governments or by public opinion’ (15:581). From the outset, Mill emphasizes the threat to individual liberty posed by ‘the tyranny of the majority’ exercised either by a democratically elected government or through the non-legal pressure of public opinion (219–20).3 This was a concern that Mill had expressed in earlier writings, notably in the article on Bentham4 and in his reviews of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.5 In Liberty the main threat to individual independence is portrayed as coming from majority rule. This is because Mill believed that, at least in the western world, democracy based on universal suffrage was the inevitable next stage of history (218).6 But it makes little difference to his main arguments whether the threat to individual liberty comes from a majority dominated govern-ment and society or from non-democratic or less democratic social and political organization. In order to draw the dividing line between the area of individual independence and social control, Mill appeals to a ‘very simple principle’ initially stated and elucidated as follows: the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection…. [T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him, must be calculated to produce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. (223–4). Two points fundamental to Mill’s doctrine are affirmed here. Firstly, the self-protection principle, invoked to justify social and other external restrictions on individual independence, appeals to the distinction between conduct that only ‘concerns the individual’ and that which also ‘concerns others’. This distinction, commonly referred to as that between ‘self-regarding’ and ‘other-regarding’ actions,7 has often been the target of Mill’s critics. They have sought, by challenging the validity of the distinction, to undermine Mill’s entire case for individual liberty. The standard objection has consisted in denying that there is, or can be, any such thing as purely self-regarding conduct. James Fitzjames Stephen, a younger contemporary of Mill and a most vehement critic, declared that ‘every act that we do either does or may affect both ourselves and others’, consequently the distinction between self-regarding and other-regarding actions is ‘altogether fallacious and unfounded’.8 And in spite of the fact that what Mill says in further elaboration of the distinction is enough to rebut this objection, it has been echoed by other commentators. The second feature of Mill’s doctrine that is emphasized in the passage quoted above is the rejection of paternalism—the view that society is justified in preventing otherwise fully responsible people from hurting or injuring themselves. The individual’s own good or simply the perceived wrongness of his or her conduct is never ‘a sufficient warrant’ for any kind of coercive interference on the part of society or anyone else. Mill’s uncompromising stand against paternalism has provoked much criticism and has found little favour even amongst many of those who claim to support his other views and his general outlook.9 Mill claims that his case for individual liberty is based on utilitarian grounds: ‘I forego any advantage which could be derived from the idea of abstract right, as a thing independent of utility. 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’ (224). However, this qualification of the principle of utility, particularly as Mill presents it in the detail of his argument, has led some commentators to hold that Mill has abandoned utilitarianism,10 and many others to assign to him doctrines which are more or less radically modified versions of classical or Benthamite utilitarianism.11 Whether, and to what extent, this is true constitutes an area of continuing interest in Mill’s moral and political philosophy. The view that self-regarding conduct should be protected from external coercive interference implies, as Mill points out, the freedom to frame and pursue our plan of life so long as what we do does not harm others; and also the freedom to associate with others for purely self-regarding purposes. Mill also specifies as a necessary feature of a free society: ‘liberty of conscience, in the most comprehensive sense; liberty of thought and feeling; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological’ (225). However, Mill does not justify freedom of speech on the grounds of a simple appeal to the self-protection principle. Although expressions of opinion may be said to be a species of other-regarding conduct, the question of their permissibility or otherwise is not to be decided on the basis of how they affect others—because ‘The liberty of expressing and publishing opinion…being almost of as much importance as the liberty of thought itself, and resting in great part on the same reasons, is practically inseparable from it’ (225–6). Mill’s concern is to defend freedom of speech regarding only the subjects he specifically mentions, thus excluding matters pertaining to a person’s private affairs. It is with respect to this specified area of thought that he supports absolute or unrestricted freedom of expression,12 and seeks to justify it on grounds other than those based on the distinction between self-regarding and other-regarding conduct. The essential ideas which constitute or underpin Mill’s defence of individual freedom are the distinction between self- and other-regarding conduct, the rejection of paternalism, the unrestricted right to freedom of expression, and the ethical doctrine to which he appeals. These are the theses that his critics have challenged ever since the publication of Liberty. And the fact that they are still being questioned speaks not only for the central character of the issues Mill addresses but also for the strength of the arguments that can be mounted in defence of his answer. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Chapter 1 of Liberty, which sets out Mill’s general position, is followed by his defence of freedom of expression. Almost a third of the book is devoted to this subject and it is clear that Mill regards the arguments and considerations that he advanced in support of free speech to have special significance for individual liberty. The central argument13 that Mill cites against censorship is epitomized in the statement that ‘All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility’ and, therefore, unjustified since any such assumption must be unfounded (229–30).14 The argument proceeds on the basis that ‘Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving an opinion, is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth…; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right’ (231).15 This is a logical claim regarding the rationality of beliefs or the basis for the assignment of truthvalues to beliefs. Mill’s contention is that we are entitled to hold a belief or declare it to be true only if it is open to criticism and survives attempted refutations. Consequently, if discussion and criticism of an opinion are prevented by legal or social restrictions, then there can be no rational basis for taking it to be true or false. This principle of the rationality of beliefs is explicitly acknowledged in the following passage: The beliefs which we have most warrant for, have no safeguard to rest on, but a standing invitation to the whole world to prove them unfounded. If the challenge is not accepted, or is accepted and the attempt fails, we are far enough from certainty still; but we have done the best that the existing state of human reason admits of; we have neglected nothing that could give the truth a chance of reaching us: if the lists are kept open, we may hope that if there be a better truth, it will be found when the human mind is capable of receiving it; and in the meantime we may rely on having attained such approach to truth, as is possible in our own day. This is the amount of certainty attainable by a fallible being, and this the sole way of attaining it. (232)16 The passage also indicates that in Mill’s view there are no absolutely certain beliefs and that all claims to truth are provisional in so far as subsequent criticism may overthrow them.17 Of course, as Isaiah Berlin points out, those who maintain that it is possible to ascertain and affirm absolute truths will not accept Mill’s account of the logical foundation of beliefs.18 On the other hand, those who claim that we can get hold of absolute truth, particularly in the area of human affairs, will need to show that we can still have a viable conception of rationality, and it is Mill’s contention that this is not possible.19 Fitzjames Stephen, who recognized the real (logical) character of the argument from infallibility,20 challenged it on the grounds of irrelevance to the question of censorship. He pointed out that censorship may be, and commonly is, justified not because the suppressed opinion or doctrine is considered to be false but because ‘it is not considered desirable that it should be discussed’ ([3.30], 77). Mill anticipates such a move which, as he puts it, seeks to make ‘the justification of restraints on discussion not a question of the truth of doctrines, but of their usefulness; and flatters itself by that means to escape the responsibility of claiming to be an infallible judge of opinions’ (233).21 He rejects the move on the grounds that ‘no belief which is contrary to truth can be really useful’ in that no one can genuinely hold a belief unless it is taken to be true. And as the usefulness of a belief requires that it should be subscribed to, it follows that its utility would also require it to be regarded as true.22 What Mill is maintaining here is not to be questioned on the grounds that many useful beliefs happen to be false. What, in his view, is necessary is that when these beliefs are held they are subjectively taken to be true. Consequently, beliefs protected from criticism on the basis of their utility must also be viewed as true, and those contrary to them as false, thus exposing such a move to the original charge of irrationality. No doubt those who protect a belief because of its utility—the censors— need not take it to be true and may even regard it as false. But they cannot avoid declaring it to be true in so far as they want to promote subscription to it. And as they must declare it to be true without permitting it to be criticized, they present themselves as infallible.23 In the second part of his case against censorship Mill proceeds as if he concedes for the sake of argument that truth is not logically tied to scrutiny and discussion.24 We may then take an opinion to be true independently of any critical assessment of it. But, Mill declares, this still does not justify protecting it from criticism because such a move reduces the belief in question to ‘a dead dogma’,—‘held in the manner of a prejudice… deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct,…as a mere formal profession’ (243, 258). If beliefs are to function as living truths governing the conduct and affairs of those who hold them, they need to be fully and frequently put to the test of critical discussion. Mill suggests that where there is a natural and general consensus in favour of some view, it may be necessary to introduce artificially a programme of dissent and criticism in order to vitalize it (251).25 It is not clear why, and consequently in what sense, opinions in the absence of discussion turn into ‘dead dogma’. On the one hand, we are told that they have no effect on character and conduct in that they involve only a verbal adherence.26 Those who hold a belief or subscribe to a doctrine in the absence of discussion do not in any proper sense of the word know what they profess, the very meaning of the belief is lost or seriously distorted (247, 258);27 consequently, it cannot have any significant impact on character and conduct. On the other hand, the protected beliefs are said to be held as mere prejudice, without any rational consideration of their grounds (244). But as we all know, prejudice serves very effectively as a determinant of dispositions and actions. Moreover, the examples that Mill gives of ‘dead’ beliefs do little to clarify the conception. He points out that ‘the maxims and precepts contained in the New Testament’, which constitute the central doctrines of the faith, were accepted as ‘living truths’ by the early Christians because they were held in the face of active and hostile criticism. These same doctrines have become ‘dead dogmas’ because in the modern era Christianity is protected from critical dissent. With hardly any exception, latter-day Christians merely verbally acknowledge that one should love one’s neighbours as oneself or take no thought for the morrow, or that it is doubtful that the rich can enter the kingdom of heaven, etc. without acting on these beliefs (248–50). But clearly the case that Mill draws attention to is open to a different and more reasonable interpretation. The beliefs he mentions are those whose content essentially spills over into conduct, so that in the consistent absence of relevant actions we may well deny that they are held at all by those who profess them. What we would have then would be cases of hypocrisy and not, as Mill claims, failure to grasp the meaning of these propositions. This is the least satisfactory part of Mill’s case for freedom of expression. Even if we grant that protecting a belief from criticism implies ignorance of its grounds,28 it does not follow from this that one does not know the meaning of what one believes.29 The view that a racial group is inferior in specified respects may be protected from criticism without any loss in meaning to those who subscribe to it.30 Propaganda and other forms of indoctrination by their very nature exclude criticism and rational discussion but they still succeed in promoting the desired beliefs. And, as history shows, there is no reason to hold that such protected beliefs have little or no direct influence on conduct. The strength of Mill’s case against censorship lies in his central contention that the very idea of rationality regarding beliefs and attitudes depends on the possibility of critical assessment. The value of freedom of expression then consists in the fact that its provision makes it possible for us to be rational. Where the life of a community is concerned, freedom of discussion is indispensable for ‘great thinkers’ to pursue bold and novel lines of thought, and much more so for ‘average human beings to attain the mental stature they are capable of (243).31 In other words, since our mental well-being depends on our being rational, freedom of discussion is necessary for our mental well-being (on which all other well-being depends) (257–8). SELF-REGARDING CONDUCT AND INDIVIDUALITY The line dividing the area of individual freedom from that of legitimate social control is identical to that separating self-regarding from other-regarding conduct. Mill indicates from the start that the boundaries of these regions are not to be drawn simply on the basis of determining whether or not a causal connection exists between the individual’s actions and specified effects suffered by others. Rather, he makes it abundantly clear that we need to appeal to a normative criterion in order to demarcate between self-regarding and other-regarding conduct. Thus, in the opening chapter of Liberty, Mill describes the area of self-regarding action as ‘comprehending all that portion of a person’s life and conduct which affects only himself, or if it affects others, only with their free, voluntary and undeceived consent and participation’ (225).32 This statement is immediately qualified: ‘When I say only himself, I mean directly and in the first instance; for whatever affects himself may affect others through himself; and the objection that may be grounded on this contingency will receive consideration in the sequel’ (225). In the ‘sequel’, i.e. chapter 4 of Liberty, Mill concedes that the mischief which a person does to himself may seriously affect, both through their sympathies and their interests, those nearly connected with him, and in a minor degree, society at large. When, by conduct of this sort, a person is led to violate a distinct and assignable obligation to any other person or persons, the case is taken out of the self-regarding class, and becomes amenable to moral disapprobation in the proper sense of the term… Whoever fails in the consideration generally due to the interests and feelings of others, not being compelled by some more imperative duty, or justified by allowable selfpreference, is a subject of moral disapprobation for that failure, but not for the cause of it, nor for the errors merely personal to himself, which may have remotely led to it. In like manner, when a person disables himself, by conduct purely self-regarding, from the performance of some definite duty incumbent on him to the public, he is guilty of a social offence… Whenever…there is a definite damage, or a definite risk of damage, either to an individual or to the public, the case is taken out of the province of liberty and placed in that of morality or law… But with regard to the merely contingent, or…constructive injury which a person causes to society, by conduct which neither violates any specific duty to the public, nor occasions perceptible hurt to any assignable individual except himself; the inconvenience is one which society can afford to bear, for the sake of the greater good of human freedom. (281–2)33 Although, in these statements, Mill seems to be specifying two necessary conditions of self-regarding conduct—that it does not involve the breach of a specific duty and also that it is not the cause of perceptible hurt to an assignable individual—further consideration shows that the second condition should be regarded as subordinate to the first. The cases of contingent injury that Mill specifies are of the following four kinds: (1) An individual through some form of self-indulgence harms himself (‘deteriorates his bodily or mental faculties’) with the result that he is unable to use his abilities for the benefit of society, e.g. he cannot be, or any longer function as, a doctor (280).34 (2) Similar conduct on the part of an individual that affects others adversely by serving as a bad example which they follow (280). (3) An act (e.g. not observing the Sabbath) which causes pain and distress to others because it goes against their views and practice (283ff.).35 (4) An individual’s success in a competitive examination, or the competitive selection of candidates for a job, causes loss and pain to those who, as a consequence, are not preferred (292–3). The injury caused in these and other cases may be perceptible enough and may clearly affect assignable individuals. For example, selling or renting a house to a black family in a white neighbourhood may bring about a fall in the value of adjacent properties, so that other house-owners suffer serious financial loss. Or the knowledge that the next-door neighbours are atheists may cause a religious person’s feelings to be outraged to the extent of bringing on a serious illness. What would make these injuries ‘merely contingent’ is not the fact that they are ‘non-perceptible’ nor the fact that they do not affect an assignable individual—for in these two cases we can specify precisely those who suffer a clear injury—but the fact that the individual concerned is not violating any specific public duty or any distinct obligation to the other persons concerned. No one, it might be said, is under an obligation not to sell or rent a house to a black family, or to be religious. It is along these lines that Mill responds to the kind of cases he mentions. With regard to (1) above, he points out that society has no right to exact any socially beneficial exercise of the talents and capacities which individual members of it may possess, so that the individual has no such corresponding duty (282).36 In connection with (4), he states that ‘society admits no right, either legal or moral, in the disappointed competitors to immunity from this kind of suffering’, i.e. no one owes a duty to another to ensure that such pain and loss does not occur (293). With regard to (3), the actions complained of cause pain and distress to others only because they are believed to be wrong, so that the injury in question would not exist independently of these beliefs.37 Mill takes this fact to imply that the so-called injured parties in such cases have no right to expect those, whose conduct is found to be offensive to act differently.38 Mill’s notion of self-regarding conduct then depends on the existence and nature of the duties the individual owes either to society at large or to other persons. If an action is not a violation of such a duty then it is to be classified as self-regarding and any injury it causes to others taken to be merely contingent. How should we determine the existence and nature of these duties which serve to mark out self-regarding from other-regarding conduct? It is as a utilitarian that Mill claims to answer this question. The ultimate appeal on all ethical questions should be to utility, provided that we take it to be ‘grounded on the permanent interests of man as a progressive being’ (224). This qualification is explained in chapter 3 of Liberty where Mill specifies individuality to be ‘one of the principal ingredients of human happiness’, ‘one of the leading essentials of well-being’ (261). What he has centrally in mind when he speaks of ‘individuality’, in particular ‘the free development of individuality’ or ‘individual spontaneity’, is the development of a certain kind of character or person. The favoured kind of person is one who does not do things just because it is customary or because it conforms to someone’s views. This does not mean that such a person ignores general preferences and other people’s views but only that this ‘recorded experience’ when available is used and interpreted in the individual’s ‘own way’, in so far as it is deemed to be ‘properly applicable to [the individual’s] own circumstances and character’ (262). What Mill values here is the nature or character of the individual’s choice, of the reasons for which a course or policy of action or plan of life is chosen. The desirable kind of choice is that where the grounds on which it is made and justified are the product of the individual’s own reasoning and judgement taking into account his or her own beliefs and desires, and not something derived mechanically from an external source ignoring ‘the opinions and feelings of home growth’ (264–5). Mill insists that such a choice should be based on the individual’s ‘own impulses and desires’, which he identifies in terms of the distinction drawn between a deliberately made person whose character has been fashioned on the lines of a model hostile to natural endowment and one whose development has been allowed to occur ‘naturally’ within the unavoidable framework of a particular social and cultural environment.39 It is only the latter kind of person whose desires can be said to be their own, it is only of such individuals that we can predicate true ‘individuality of desires and impulses’ and, accordingly, what we might call autonomous or genuine choice (264).40 Mill declares that it is only by making autonomous choices that one exercises and develops the essential human faculties of ‘perception, judgement, discriminative feeling, mental activity, and even moral preference’ (262), whereas those who fail to operate autonomously fail to make a choice in the proper sense of the word.41 If choosing nonautonomously is not to choose at all, then we can say that what Mill wants to secure is freedom in a substantial or positive sense of the term—not simply freedom from external interference which allows the translation of prevailing desires into action but which also consists in being moved by reasons which are, in the sense specified, one’s own and in realizing one’s own purposes and goals.42 If it is only the individually spontaneous person who is a human being in the full sense of the term—in that we have with such a person the development of distinctive human endowments—then we can see what Mill means when he declares individuality to be one of the principal ingredients of human happiness and, therefore, desirable in itself. In so far as we aim to bring about happiness, we must find place in this final end for the happiness of those who have developed their individuality. And if we measure happiness in terms of pleasure or the satisfaction of desires and preferences, then we can point out on Mill’s behalf that individually spontaneous persons will gain pleasure or satisfaction from the fact that they act and live in accordance with their true nature, i.e. in being what they are. In addition, Mill holds out other avenues of satisfaction available to autonomous persons if they develop their capacities to the full—the satisfaction of having achieved a distinct wholeness of being which translates into the pattern of their lives.43 The values placed on the development of individuality can be carried over to the pleasure or satisfaction associated with it. However, this does not mean that we can detach the pleasure or satisfaction from the exercise of individuality—it has value as part of happiness only because it is related to individual spontaneity. Mill’s qualified appeal to the principle of utility on the basis of taking into account ‘the permanent interests of man as a progressive being’ amounts to assigning an independent intrinsic value to the development of individuality ([3.31], 73–5). Again, the modified view is not an aggregative doctrine ([3.31], 78–9). Neither the development of individuality nor the attendant satisfaction can be traded off against a greater degree of it in some other case or against a nett increase in the total amount. If individuality is recognized to be desirable in itself then each of us will have a right to its promotion provided that what we do does not prevent others from pursuing it.44 Consequently, there will exist a general duty to refrain from acting in ways that prevent others from being individually spontaneous and, in this sense, to refrain from harming or hurting them. The boundaries of self-regarding conduct in specific situations will be marked out on the basis of respecting the rights of others, and acknowledging corresponding duties, regarding the development of individuality. We also need to consider the other components of happiness in order to determine rights and duties, and by reference to these the boundaries of individual freedom. In Utilitarianism Mill takes observance of the ‘rules of justice’, i.e. the moral rules which fall under the category of justice, to be part of ‘the essentials of human well-being’ and thus as the grounds, in given situations, of specific duties to others.45 Examples of such duties, whose violation constitutes harm done to others, and determines the conduct to be other-regarding, are the obligation to keep one’s promises or carry out the requirements of a commitment that one has voluntarily entered into (10:242–3). It is on this basis that in Liberty Mill declares that a man may be legally coerced into providing education for his children, and that it would not be a violation of liberty to legally forbid marriage unless the parties concerned can show that they have the means of supporting a family (300–4). In addition, there are duties which we owe to the society to which we belong and whose object is to ensure its continued viability—for example, to give evidence in a court of law, to share in the common defence of the country, etc. (224–5). Our obligations to the community and to others will need to be restricted to the minimum required for a viable society to exist in order to provide for a sufficiently large area of self-regarding conduct and of individual freedom. But this will be secured by the great intrinsic value placed on individual spontaneity. As a component element of happiness or well-being, individuality is regarded as a greater good than the other elements. Its higher value is justified on the grounds that it is a necessary condition of other components of happiness: ‘it is not only a co-ordinate element with all that is designated by the terms civilization, instruction, education, culture, but is itself a necessary part and condition of all those things’.46 Without individual spontaneity these other ends will lose their value—for what can be the worth of education and culture if those involved in their pursuit are incapable of thinking and deciding for themselves? The classical utilitarian ends of pleasure and freedom from pain will also form part of happiness, and they may be partly accommodated under ‘the obligations of justice’ which provide security for the individual in various respects (10:251). Otherwise they are to be regarded as goods which are less valuable than the other components of happiness: paternalistic control may promote people’s welfare or keep them out of harm’s way, but the comparative worth of such an undertaking will be much less than individuals determining their own affairs (263). Mill concedes that some, possibly many, may not want to lead an individually spontaneous life because they do not recognize its intrinsic value (261, 267). To these one can point out that a society which permits and encourages the free development of individuality will benefit in that such a move will introduce ‘originality’ in its affairs. The value of originality is said to consist in the discovery by ‘persons of genius’ of ‘new truths’ and ‘new practices’ which may prove beneficial to others in the community. In addition, we may expect the free development of individuality to promote the existence of ‘a succession of persons whose ever-recurring originality’, by insisting on an independent and rational scrutiny of the grounds of generally accepted beliefs and practices, will help to prevent merely mechanical and unthinking acceptance of these on the part of the rest of society (267). Clearly, in the latter sense of ‘original’, the belief or practice that is supported need not be novel, and all that is required is that its truth or desirability is affirmed or defended independently by the individual.47 Mill admits that geniuses are likely to be few in number, so that it is originality in the sense of independence of thought that may be held out as being within the reach of the generality of humankind and as a necessary feature of a free society. Far from advocating the control of a community by an elite or ‘the strong man of genius’, it is originality in the sense of independence of thought that Mill emphasizes: ‘If a person possesses any tolerable amount of common sense and experience, his own mode of laying out his existence is the best, not because it is the best in itself, but because it is his own mode’ (270).48 PATERNALISM The intrinsic value placed on individuality rules out, with exceptions, paternalism, i.e. the entitlement to coerce people for their own good, for example, prevent them from hurting themselves. One class of exceptions Mill stipulates is children and persons below the legal age of adulthood as well as ‘those backward states of society in which the race itself may be considered as in its nonage’ (224). In the case of the latter, benevolent despotism, which seeks to improve the condition of the people, is justified until they have become ‘capable of being improved by free and equal discussion…, of being guided to their own improvement by conviction or persuasion’ (224). It is very likely that Mill had in mind not only ancient communities but also contemporary societies judged not to be developed enough for the application of libertarian principles. His view may be challenged on the grounds that he is mistaken about the existence of such societies anywhere whose members are generally incapable of being moved by rational discussion and persuasion. But by convicting Mill of any such factual error we do not invalidate his case against paternalism.49 The other kind of exception mentioned by Mill is that where we are justified in forcibly preventing people from injuring themselves because it is clear that they are not aware of what they are doing—e.g. physically preventing someone from crossing an unsafe bridge when they are ignorant of its condition and there is no way of warning them (294). Ignorance of the particular circumstances of the action in such a case vitiates the decision to perform it.50 But where there is no reason to doubt the voluntary character of the individual’s choice then there is no basis for any kind of paternalistic interference, however undesirable or harmful the consequences of the action may be for the agent concerned.51 To abandon coercion in such cases is not to give up attempts to influence the individual to modify his conduct. We may, and in certain circumstances should, try to deflect someone from harming himself or herself by means of advice, persuasion or entreaty. And where self-regarding conduct exhibits folly or some other defect it may, according to Mill, properly become the object of distaste and even of contempt on the part of others. Such adverse judgements of individuals’ self-regarding deficiencies may carry further penalties in the form of avoidance of their society or cautioning others about them, etc. Such penalties are not to be seen as specially designed forms of punishment—they are the natural outcome of the individual’s self-regarding faults in that the restrictions they bring are ‘strictly inseparable from the unfavourable judgement of others’. If we feel contempt regarding a person’s conduct then it is natural (to be logically expected) that, unless there is some special reason for explanation, we will avoid the individual’s company. Mill emphasizes the difference between adverse judgements of self-regarding faults and moral denunciations of harmful other-regarding actions. In the latter case, the conduct is regarded as the proper object of ‘moral reprobation, and, in grave cases, of moral retribution and punishment’. Moreover, the penalties suffered in such cases are purposely inflicted in order to punish the individual. Self-regarding faults ‘are not properly immoralities, and…do not constitute wickedness’. What they reveal is folly, imprudence and absence of self-respect and, as such, deserve ‘lack of consideration’ but not ‘reprobation’; consequently, they do not call for any kind of coercive interference in the individual’s affairs (278–80).52 Referring to Mill’s views on paternalism, H.L.A.Hart states that he carried his protests…to lengths that may now appear to us as fantastic. He cites the example of restrictions of the sale of drugs, and criticizes them as interferences with the liberty of the would-be purchaser rather than with that of the seller. No doubt if we no longer sympathise with this criticism this is due, in part, to a general decline in the belief that individuals know their own interests best, and to an increased awareness of a great range of factors which diminish the significance to be attached to an apparently free choice or to consent. Choices may be made or consent given without adequate reflection or appreciation of the consequences; or in pursuit of merely transitory desires; or in various predicaments when the judgement is likely to be clouded; or under inner psychological compulsion; or under pressure by others of a kind too subtle to be susceptible in a law court. Underlying Mill’s extreme fear of paternalism there perhaps is a conception of what a normal human being is like which now seems not to correspond to the facts. Mill, in fact, endows him with too much of the psychology of a middle-aged man whose desires are relatively fixed, not liable to be artificially stimulated by external influences; who knows what he wants and what gives him satisfaction or happiness; and who pursues these things when he can.53 Part of this criticism, in so far as it depends on the defective character of the individual’s choice, will fall under the exceptions Mill cites to his rejection of paternalistic interference. And where the impairment of the individual’s choice is due to the activities of others (for example the use of various kinds of subtle pressure), the coercive interference, even if not provable in a court of law, will still invoke the self-protection principle. If the impairment of individual choice is said to be substantial, then, besides enlarging the area of paternalistic direction, we will need to bring about other more radical institutional changes, e.g. exclude at least the ordinary person from serving on juries or electing a legislature etc. If we are not prepared to support such moves then, to that extent, we cannot support Hart’s general doubts regarding the authenticity of individual choice. The other common objection to Mill’s rejection of paternalism, which Hart also mentions, is that it is doubtful that individuals know their own interests best. However, it is not Mill’s contention that individuals can always or mostly be relied on to know where their real good lies but only that others are unlikely to do so. This is because estimates of the individual’s interests made by others are arrived at from the outside, so to speak, and they fail to capture the intimate view which the person actually affected by the situation normally has. In contrast, the individual’s own assessments of what constitutes his or her good are more reliable because ‘with respect to his own feelings and circumstances, the most ordinary man or woman has means of knowledge immeasurably surpassing those that can be possessed by any one else’ (277). Whereas the individual’s knowledge is based on immediate acquaintance with what happens to and around, those who seek to direct his or her life from the outside can proceed only on the basis of ‘general presumptions…which may be altogether wrong, and even if right, are as likely as not to be misapplied to individual cases’ (277).54 William James, discussing the special case of appreciating the way of life of those who are significantly different from us, distinguishes (as Mill does) between how things appear from the external standpoint and the assessments made from the point of view of the individual concerned: ‘The spectator’s judgement is sure to miss the root of the matter, and to possess no truth. The subject judged knows a part of the world of reality which the judging spectator fails to see, knows more while the spectator knows less’. In James’s view, the greater the difference in lifestyles between ‘the judging spectator’ and ‘the subject judged’, the greater the chances of the former’s judgement being distorted ([3.16], 1–2). Mill (and also James) sometimes talks as if it was impossible for anyone to see and estimate things accurately enough on behalf of another person. But it is not necessary, even if it is possible, to hold this extreme view. We may concede that there may be occasions where one may understand and follow the ‘mechanisms of the mind’ of some people well enough. But we may still be justified in doubting that this happens, or is likely to happen, often or normally or typically. That should provide sufficient grounds to challenge the reasonableness of a policy which seeks, in the likely absence of relevant knowledge, to manage the lives of people in order to promote their real good. Mill’s objections to paternalism gain support from the additional fact that the inability to see and assess matters from the standpoint of the individual whose interests are to be promoted may lead, possibly unwittingly, to the imposition of values held by those engaged in carrying out the undertaking. Paternalism then will collapse into an attempt to bring about conformity with values held by others and the good sought on behalf of the individual misidentified in terms of a set of alien norms.55 But, apart from all these considerations, we cannot expect external control and direction normally to promote the individual’s interests because it is a central part of the individual’s good that he or she should be free from any such direction. As Mill points out, ‘All errors which he is likely to commit against advice and warning are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to what they deem is his good’ (277). If the removal of tutelage and the exercise of individuality is the most essential part of a person’s well-being then how can paternalism, which consists in imposing tutelage, contribute to it? UTILITARIANISM In one of his earlier letters to Carlyle, Mill states that he is ‘still, and likely to remain a utilitarian—but having scarcely any secondary premisses in common with those picked out as Utilitarians; and a utilitarian in a sense which no one else would regard as one’ (12:207–8). Originally intended to deflect Carlyle’s hostility to utility as the foundation of morals, the statement indicates well enough the final direction of his thought. There is a sense in which Mill never gave up utilitarianism but his views, in spite of his efforts to hold on to their original character, would not have been acknowledged by those professing the Benthamite and hedonistic version of the doctrine. In Liberty, the modified account of utilitarianism that Mill appeals to consists in specifying individual spontaneity to be both desirable in itself and a greater good than the other elements of happiness. Utilitarianism, which is meant to be both a defence of utilitarian doctrine and also an account of his own ethical theory, re-affirms this conception of happiness as comprising a plurality of ends some of which are more valuable than others. The ‘utilitarian formula’ is said to be ‘a comprehensive formula, including all things which are in themselves good’ (10:208) and happiness is characterized as ‘a concrete whole’ whose constituents or ‘parts’ are such things as health, virtue etc. (10:236). And although Mill declares that ‘the theory of life’ on which his moral views are founded is still the orthodox belief that ‘pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things desirable as ends’ (10:210), his further characterization of the ideas of pleasure and pain as well as the role he assigns to this central belief in our moral thinking leaves little room for the original hedonistic character of the doctrine. Two kinds of pleasure are distinguished—that associated with the exercise of our higher faculties and the one involved in the operation of our bodily nature and the satisfaction of the animal appetites. The ‘pleasures of the intellect, of the feelings and imagination, and of the moral sentiments’—of the capacities specified in Liberty as the distinctive endowments of a human being—are declared to have ‘a much higher value, as pleasures than…those of mere sensation’ (10:211). Since the difference between the two is qualitative, the higher kind of pleasure is said to be more desirable than any amount of the lesser variety (10:211). Mill leaves the difference in quality between the two kinds of pleasure to be indicated by the expressed preference (in judgement and action) of those who have had actual experience of both. No further description is given, or even considered to be possible, of the qualities which are supposed to distinguish the two kinds (10:213). This is understandable in that whether we take ‘pleasure’ to stand for a psychological state or experience, or construe it in terms of enjoyment or of the satisfaction of desires, no reasonable candidate for any such distinguishing quality is available. Quantitative differences may be readily specified: the pleasure or enjoyment or gratification that attends the operation of the higher faculties may be deeper or longer lasting or superior in terms of fecundity and, on this basis, one may prefer to engage in intellectual pursuits as against the satisfaction of bodily appetites. But what other, nonquantitative, considerations can one mention here except the character of the goals pursued and activities engaged in? And it is on this basis that Mill himself promotes the distinction: the one kind of pleasure is superior to the other because the activities and pursuits it is associated with are more valuable. He speaks of opting for the higher kind of pleasure as equivalent to preferring ‘the manner of existence which employs [the] higher faculties’ (10:211). And he remarks on our general unwillingness ‘to sink into…a lower grade of existence’ because it offends ‘the sense of dignity which all human beings possess in…proportion to their higher faculties… It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied’ (10:212). If a human life, in spite of its many dissatisfactions,56 is to be preferred to the contented life of a pig, then what makes it more valuable is its character, the kind of life it is. Mill, however, also wants to maintain that such a life, in spite of the imperfections and disappointments it is likely to contain, will still be productive of pleasure in that human beings will want to pursue it and desiring something is necessarily to find it to be pleasant.57 In order, then, to hold on to hedonism, he falls back on a version of the doctrine according to which the pursuit of pleasure as an end turns out to be the pursuit of anything that we may desire as such. Moreover, Mill allows that we may intentionally aim at ends other than pleasure and even persist in such conduct when it is productive of pain—but in such cases it is still true that the conduct in question was originally (‘in the beginning’) followed because it was a source of pleasure or served to avert pain.58 Finally, what is valued as a means to happiness (because it is externally productive of pleasure or instrumental in the satisfaction of desires) may, we are told, become part of it and valued for itself (for the pleasure directly associated with it).59 It is in this way that wealth, power, fame and virtue can become parts or constituent elements of happiness. The unrestricted pursuit of some of these ends, such as power or wealth, may have a negative effect on the general welfare, but there need be no limit placed, in this regard, on the disinterested pursuit of virtue: ‘Utilitarianism…could only obtain its end by the general cultivation of nobleness of character’ (10:213–14), hence ‘the utilitarian standard…enjoys and requires the cultivation of the love of virtue up to the greatest strength possible, as being above all things important to the general happiness’ (10:237). Mill remains a utilitarian to the extent that his moral theory appeals to consequences as the test of right and wrong. In this he sees himself to be following Bentham and the other classical utilitarians in holding that a necessary condition of an acceptable morality is that it appeals to an ‘external standard’ and is not based simply on ‘internal convictions’ or feelings (10:111, 179). But the consequences that Mill specifies are not restricted to pleasure and the avoidance of pain in the ordinary sense of these terms. He includes other items in his conception of happiness as the ultimate end. And he tries to preserve the hedonistic character of these items, such as the cultivation of virtue, by (1) postulating a necessary connection between desiring something and getting pleasure from it; and (2) appealing to the empirical hypothesis that it is only by way of an original means-end relationship to pleasure that any other element of happiness comes to be valued in itself. But the first move is dubious unless we dilute ‘pleasure’ to mean no more than being pleased to do what one intentionally does or wants to do. And the second is equally doubtful as an account of why we come to value such things as virtue. We may get pleasure from being virtuous and perhaps, as Aristotle states, if we are truly virtuous then we must ‘delight’ in being so (Nicomachean Ethics 1104b 4–8), but this does not mean that we initially or otherwise come to value virtue for the pleasure it brings. Mill takes the main difference between his version of utilitarianism and the original Benthamite doctrine to lie in the ‘secondary premisses’ which his own view supports and highlights. He tries to play down the difference by claiming a hedonistic foundation for these secondary rules along the lines mentioned above. Consequently, if we reject this attempt to re-introduce hedonism then some of the secondary premisses will effectively govern interests or pick out ends other than pleasure and the avoidance of pain, such as the free development of individuality, the exercise and fulfilment of the higher human capacities, the cultivation of virtuous dispositions, etc. The different items in Mill’s conception of happiness will need to be ranked and he seems to provide for this partly by way of the distinction between higher and lower kinds of pleasure, so that those elements associated with the higher kind of pleasure may be said to be more valuable. And partly the ranking is made to depend on the extent to which an element of happiness, though valuable in itself, is also valued as a necessary ingredient of other component ends—for example the free development of individuality is valuable not only in itself but also as a necessary feature of significant achievement in education and the promotion of culture (261).60 On this basis, ‘the standard of morality’ will ensure the ‘happiness’ (i.e. serve and advance the interests) of human beings as creatures essentially endowed with the higher faculties and capable of freely developing their individuality. This in effect is the criterion characterized by Mill in Liberty as the appeal to ‘utility grounded on the permanent interests of man as a progressive being’. In Utilitarianism Mill gives a proof of the principle of utility which has achieved notoriety because of the fallacies it is supposed to involve. The first part of the proof where these fallacies are located runs: [T]he only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible, is that people hear it… In like manner…the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it. If the end which the utilitarian doctrine proposes to itself were not, in theory and practice, acknowledged to be an end, nothing could ever convince any person that it was so. No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except that each person…desires his own happiness. This, however, being a fact, we have not only all the proof which the case admits of, but all which it is possible to require, that, happiness is a good: that each person’s happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons. Happiness has made out its title as one of the ends of conduct and consequently one of the criteria of morality. (10:234) The inference from something being seen to its being visible is justified because it is part of the meaning of ‘visible’ that the thing in question is capable of being seen. But no such conceptual rule links ‘desired’ with ‘desirable’, hence what is actually desired may not be desirable (or worthy of being desired) at all. If it is Mill’s purpose to base his case for utilitarianism on a strict analogy between ‘visible’ and ‘desirable’, then clearly he is guilty of arguing fallaciously. But it is open to us to take the offending statements in the proof to be no more than a bad rhetorical flourish. In the introductory chapter of Utilitarianism, Mill declares that ultimate moral principles cannot be justified by means of strictly deductive reasoning: ‘Questions of ultimate ends are not amenable to direct proof, consequently the utilitarian theory cannot be the ‘subject of what is commonly understood by proof (10:207–8). But such issues still fall within the scope of rational inquiry in that ‘Considerations may be presented capable of determining the intellect either to give or withhold its assent…and this is equivalent to proof—so that we are to consider whether and ‘what rational grounds…can be given for accepting or rejecting the utilitarian formula’ (10:208). We can then ignore the unjustified analogy and take Mill’s point to be that a central reason for regarding happiness as desirable is the fact that it is generally desired.61 We must take happiness in this connection as comprising the constituent elements Mill assigns to it and its more or less general pursuit to be the product of experience and reflection.62 The further inference from each person’s happiness being a good to that person to the general happiness being a good to the aggregate of all persons should also be interpreted in the light of Mill’s reservations here about strict deductive proofs. What we must consider is whether there are good reasons in favour of the principle of utility, and although Mill does not canvass these reasons in the context of his proof we can specify them as they are mentioned elsewhere in his account. The consideration that seems to be most central is discussed in the chapter preceding the statement of the proof: Mill maintains that we naturally see ourselves as social beings,63 so that whatever is thought to be necessary for the continued existence of the society to which we belong comes to be regarded as essential to human (including our own individual) existence. The movement of history is towards a state of human society where more and more people regard themselves as equal. And since social relations between equals can survive only if the interests of all concerned are considered equally, individuals in these circumstances come to recognize the interests of others as their own: ‘The [individual] comes, as though instinctively, to be conscious of himself as a being who of course pays regard to others. The good of others becomes to him a thing naturally and necessarily to be attended to, like any of the physical conditions of our existence’ (10:232). In this way the good of others forms part of the individual’s own good and the greatest good or happiness of others part of the individual’s greatest happiness.64 An additional consideration that Mill seems to rely on is that ethical doctrines opposed to utilitarianism not only acknowledge the duty to pursue the general good but also assign to it a pronounced importance (10:230).65 These opposing moralities differ from utilitarianism in that they also support the pursuit of other ends besides happiness and the second part of the proof is designed to show that they are mistaken in this regard as happiness (in the form of promotion of pleasure and avoidance of pain) is the only end desired. But, as we have seen, Mill reaches this conclusion on the basis of doubtful moves, so that we are left with an unreduced plurality of ends—both with regard to the opposing moralities and with regard to his own doctrine. We may, of course, group these different ends under ‘happiness’ as an inclusive ultimate end. One of the elements of this inclusive end will be the general well-being or the good of the society or collective to which the individual belongs. And although the general good is conceived to be the sum of the good of individuals,66 it will function as just one of a plurality of ends and not as the overriding goal of orthodox utilitarianism.67 REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT AND THE SUBJECTION OF WOMEN Much of the discussion in Representative Government is about practical proposals regarding the mode of operation of a parliamentary government, particularly the method of electing members of parliament.68 The theoretical issues considered relate to the value of parliamentary democracy and take up Mill’s concerns regarding the dangers inherent in government by the majority.69 Mill gives two main reasons why parliamentary democracy based on universal suffrage is to be preferred to other forms of government. Firstly, it enables every member of society to assert and defend their own rights and interests and, consequently, prevent them from being disregarded.70 And, secondly, a democratic society, by giving citizens a voice in its affairs and letting them take part in the business of government, promotes those qualities of mind and character which make for excellence in intellectual, practical and moral capacity (19:407). The outcome of this process of education is the development in such a society of active and energetic individuals with a real desire to pursue the public good and the capacity to do so (19:408– 12). The idea of individual development canvassed here is the same as that supported in Liberty and Utilitarianism;71 hence we may take Mill’s defence of representative democracy to appeal to the same conception of utility as that proposed in these works. As regards the danger inherent in a parliamentary democracy based on universal (or fairly extensive) suffrage, Mill holds the greatest to be that of ‘class legislation: of government intended for…the immediate benefit of the dominant class’ made up of the numerical majority (19:446). This is the threat posed by ‘the tyranny of the majority’ which Bentham and the other utilitarians had ignored and which de Tocqueville had emphasized. The other defect of representative government based on majority support is the likelihood of ‘general ignorance and incapacity,…insufficient mental qualifications’ in those who make up the legislative body (19:436). Mill thinks that both these deficiencies can be overcome by the adoption of an electoral system such as the one proposed by Thomas Hare involving the representation of minorities in proportion to their size. This would allow minority points of view to be represented in the deliberations of parliament and thus prevent minority interests from being disregarded (19:449). The scheme would also allow people of merit and independent views to be elected, thus raising the intellectual level of the assembly and serving to counter the tendency of all universal democracies towards ‘collective mediocrity’ (19:456–7). Mill is so concerned about the ignorance and stupidity of the electors rubbing off on those they elect, and thus lowering the intellectual standard of parliament, that he proposes minimum educational qualification for all voters.72 And he also recommends, if it is possible to overcome practical difficulties, additional votes given to those who are intellectually qualified or more intelligent (19:476–9). The presence in parliament of people representing points of view different from that of the majority, and of people who are intellectually superior, will provide a public centre of opposition and dissent where, whenever necessary, majority opinion may be challenged and minority views defended. Parliament so constituted will then perform an important social function (‘the function of Antagonism’) without which the community living under the unchallenged influence of the majority is likely to stagnate or decline (19:458–9). It is not too implausible to trace a connection with Liberty here: just as beliefs in the absence of criticism are supposed to turn into dead dogmas, so too are societies existing under the direction of unchallenged power fated to end in stagnation and decay. Conflict and collision are the foundation both of truth and social progress. The Subjection of Women is designed to show that the social and legal disabilities suffered by women (for instance in nineteenth-century England) are unjustified and that the relations between the two sexes should be governed by a ‘principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other’ (21:261). Pointing out that he has held this view from his earliest days, Mill concedes the difficulty involved in the enterprise—not because of ‘the insufficiency or obscurity of the ground of reason on which [the] conviction rests’ but because the contrary beliefs are embedded in ‘a mass of feeling’ against which rational argument is ineffectual (21:261).73 Consequently, much of what he has to say against the subordination of women takes on the character of tracing these ‘feelings’ to their source or revealing their influence when they are dressed up as ‘reason’. Mill does recognize that the disabilities suffered by women, particularly their disenfranchisement and exclusion from the political process, their status in the marriage contract and relation (‘the assimilation of the wife to the slave’ (21:286)) and the denial of entry to the professions and educational institutions, are unjustified in terms of the principles asserted in Liberty and Representative Government. Thus, he invokes the doctrine of Liberty when he declares that refusing women entry into the professions and various occupations for their own good constitutes denying them ‘the equal moral right of all human beings to choose their occupation (short of injury to others) according to their own preferences, at their own risk’ (21:300). And he argues that given the value of ‘personal independence as an element of happiness’, the subordination of women, in so far as it denies them freedom as individuals, contributes to their (and to the general) unhappiness (21:336– 40).74 Again, he justifies giving women the right to vote because it is ‘a means of selfprotection due to every one’ (21:301), appealing to what for him is an essential feature of representative democracy.75 However, the greater part of the discussion consists of an examination of various arguments purporting to defend the subordinate status of women. Many of these arguments are manifestly weak76 but Mill still takes them seriously and considers them at length, possibly because he wants to reveal the underlying irrational basis in ‘feeling’ and, perhaps, also because ‘such things do affect people’s minds’ (21:303).77 Referring to the general practice of distinguishing the sexes in terms of their different ‘natural’ capacities and inclinations—so that women’s disabilities (and male privileges) are seen to be natural and attempts to remove them unnatural—Mill points out that what is taken to be natural in this case can easily be shown to be the product of historical and social circumstances: ‘What is now called the nature of woman is an eminently artificial thing—the result of forced repression in some directions, unnatural stimulation in others’, the product of ‘a hot-house and stove cultivation…for the benefit and pleasure of their masters’ (21:276).78 Mill’s account is particularly significant in that he tries to show how women become the product of the system which oppresses them, so that they may appear to justify the discrimination and may even need to be convinced of their oppression.79 His psychological insights in this regard and in his characterization of the effects of the legal and social subordination of women on the male psyche have been singled out for praise.80 And in general his views, and sometimes even the language in which he presents them, are well ahead of his times and more appropriate to our contemporary scene.81 But it is the classic doctrine of Liberty that gives shape to most of the views expressed in the other works, so that we can see them as part of a conception of human affairs centred on the supreme value of individual freedom and autonomy. NOTES All references to Mill’s writings unless otherwise indicated are to The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill cited by volume and page. References to On Liberty in volume 18 are by page number only. 1 ‘(with the possible exception of the Logic)’ (1:259) But the parenthetical qualification has not been borne out by time. Liberty has continued to be the subject of discussion and controversy as much (if not more) in our times as in the years immediately following its publication. In the last two or three decades alone there have been, in English, nearly thirty studies of it and of Mill’s views on ethics and politics. There is nothing comparable to this with regard to the Logic. 2 In the Autobiography Mill states that Liberty was revised many times (jointly by his wife Harriet and himself)—‘there was not a sentence of it that was not several times gone through by us together, turned over in many ways, and carefully weeded of any faults, either in thought and expression, that we detected in it’ (1:258–9). This fact seems to have escaped the notice of many of his critics, particularly those who claim to have found the most obvious inconsistencies and defects in his argument. A close reading of the text much more often than not reveals Mill’s awareness of these objections and a sufficient response to them. 3 Mill often talks as if the greater threat to individual liberty exists in the coercion exercised through the medium of public opinion than in the form of legal or government interference. However, this is not meant to be taken as anything more than a contingent fact regarding English political life: ‘The majority have not yet learnt to feel that power of the government their power, or its opinions their opinions. When they do so, individual liberty will probably be as much exposed to invasion from the government, as it already is from public opinion’ (223). 4 According to Mill, a major defect of Bentham’s political philosophy is that ‘not content with enthroning the majority as sovereign, by means of universal suffrage without king or house of lords, he exhausted all the resources of ingenuity in devising means for riveting the yoke of public opinion closer and closer round the necks of all public functionaries, and excluding every possibility of the exercise of the slightest or most temporary influence either by a minority, or by the functionary’s own notions of right.’ Conceding that it is best (because less unjust than any other arrangement) that power should be vested in the majority, Mill proposed as a corrective institutional provisions (left unspecified) for the protection of ‘freedom of thought and individuality of character, a perpetual and standing opposition to the will of the majority’ (10:106–8). 5 ‘De Tocqueville on Democracy in America’ I (1835) and II (1840) (CW, vol. 18). In the Autobiography Mill acknowledges his debt to de Tocqueville’s ‘masterly analysis [of] the specific dangers which beset Democracy considered as the government of the numerical majority’. 6 Mill accepts de Tocqueville’s contention that the civilized world shows clear signs of an inevitable progress to democracy. 7 Mill speaks only of ‘self-regarding’ conduct etc. (226 and 276ff.); the expression ‘otherregarding’ has been supplied by commentators. 8 Stephen [3.30], 28. Fitzjames Stephen originally saw himself as Mill’s disciple. And it was as a classical or Benthamite utilitarian, determined to rescue Mill from his heretical abandonment of the doctrine, that he attacked the views expressed in Liberty ([3.30], 2, 11– 12). Mill’s comment that he ‘does not know what he is arguing against’ is, in general, not an unjust assessment of Stephen’s passionate but often misguided critique ([3.2], in). 9 An example of a friendly or liberal critic of Mill on this point is H.L.A.Hart who holds that ‘Mill carried his protests against paternalism to lengths that may now appear to us as fantastic’, hence ‘a modification in Mill’s principle is required’ ([3.11], 32–3). At the other extreme, we have Fitzjames Stephen in whose view the ignorant and stupid, who will always exist in number in any society, clearly ought to be coerced into pursuing their own good ([3.30], 65ff.). Carlyle held similar beliefs: ‘The immense mass of men he believed to be poor creatures, poor in heart and poor in intellect, incapable of making any progress at all if left to their own devices… Every advance which humanity had made was due to special individuals supremely gifted in mind and character. It was not true…that men were equal. They were infinitely unequal…in intelligence, and still more…in moral purpose. So far from being able to guide or govern themselves, their one chance of improvement lay in their submitting to their natural superiors, either by their free-will or else by compulsion’ (Froude [3.6], 386–7). 10 For example Isaiah Berlin in ‘John Stuart Mill and the Ends of Life’ declares that Mill’s version of utilitarianism stretches the meaning of utility or happiness ‘to the point of vacuity’ ([3.4], 181). 11 Compare Ten [3.31], [3.32], Gray [3.7], Berger [3.3], Donner [3.5], etc. 12 Mill distinguishes between the formation of beliefs or opinions and the expression of beliefs or opinions. We may then take the reference to absolute freedom of opinion to apply to the former, which would make the freedom to express opinions nearly but not entirely absolute. This would allow restrictions on freedom of speech mentioned or implied by Mill in the subsequent discussion. On the other hand, it seems reasonable to hold that in Liberty Mill had in mind only opinions having to do with the range of subjects he specifically mentions— ‘practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological’. If we take ‘practical’ to cover social, political and general human affairs, then the specified range of topics will rule out personal and private matters. Although he did not explicitly canvass it in Liberty, Mill did have a notion of privacy in so far as he held that there was no general right on the part of others to enquire into the personal aspects of an individual’s life and affairs. During the period of his election to Parliament in 1865, he refused to give any information regarding his religious beliefs on the grounds that ‘no one has any right to question another on his religious opinions’ (Later Letters, CW, vol. 16, no. 834; also cf. no. 1324 and the Autobiography, 1:274). In 1834, in response to Daniel O’Connell’s proposal in his bill regarding freedom of the press that truth should be a justification, Mill declared that ‘there are insuperable objections to allowing the details of a person’s private conduct’ to be aired in public and, in a libel action, made the subject of judicial investigation in order to determine its truth (6:166– 7; cf. Earlier Letters, CW vol. 12, no. 99). The fact that Mill’s discussion of the right to free speech in Liberty makes no mention of the laws of libel also indicates the exclusion of an area of privacy from the scope of this right. In Liberty, Mill holds that ‘opinions lose their immunity, when the circumstances in which they are expressed are such as to constitute their expression a positive instigation to a mischievous act’, for example denouncing corn-dealers as oppressors of the poor to an excited mob before a corn-dealer’s house (260). Clearly the exclusion here is only nominal in that the case specified is such that the so-called expression of opinion really constitutes an action designed to incite or get others to hurt someone, like throwing the first stone (cf. Ten [3.31], 131ff. and Monro [3.21], 239–40). In ‘Law of Libel and Liberty of the Press’, one of his earlier publications in the Westminster Review, Mill quotes a passage from Montesquieu’s De l’Espirit des Lois which specifically refers to cases where words, or what is said, by participating in an action take on the character of an action (21:5). 13 Mill divides his case into three parts: where the suppressed opinion is true (and the protected opinion false), where it is false (and the protected opinion true) and where the truth is shared between the conflicting opinions; and he cites different objections to censorship under this division. However, what I have called his central argument clearly covers all these cases and governs in each case the assignment of truth-values to both the protected and the suppressed beliefs. 14 According to C.L.Ten, the assumption of infallibility argument is ambiguous in that Mill sometimes uses it to affirm the necessity of freedom of expression for the actual discovery of true beliefs and sometimes as a condition of rational beliefs ([3.31], 124–6). Perhaps one can say, in Mill’s defence, that if there is an ambiguity here it is not significant since, for him, it is only on the basis of the principle of the rationality of beliefs that truth-values are to be assigned in particular cases. 15 Bain points out that Mill’s view on freedom of discussion ‘works round a central idea… namely, the necessity of taking account of the negative to every positive affirmation; of laying down, side by side with every proposition, the counter-proposition’ ([3.2], 104). 16 Although Mill generally speaks in terms of the truth or falsity of beliefs and opinions, his central argument applies even in those cases where we may use other (cognate) notions such as ‘justified’/‘unjustified’, ‘reasonable’/‘unreasonable’ etc. 17 This brings to mind Sir Karl Popper’s views concerning the character of scientific theories, according to which tests of such theories are to be regarded as attempts to refute them; and a successful test (where such an attempt fails) can only temporarily support the theory since future tests may produce a negative result ([3.25], chapters 1 and 10). It is interesting to find the arch-inductivist invoking elements of the hypothetico-deductive account of knowledge. Still it should be noted that the strength of Mill’s defence of freedom of expression is that it presents more or less the same line of thought as what many would regard as an illuminating and fruitful view of the structure of scientific inquiry (cf. Ryan [3.27], 136ff.). 18 Berlin holds that Mill’s account follows from his general empiricist outlook: ‘he believed that no truths are—or could be—rationally established except on the evidence of observation. New observations could in principle always upset a conclusion founded on earlier ones’ ([3.4], 187). 19 Berlin takes Mill as no more than contemptuously dismissing his opponents here ([3.4], 187). It seems to me that it is more reasonable to take the discussion on pp. 230–43 of Liberty as partly constituting an attempted rebuttal of absolutism on these lines. Mill uses historical examples to support his case. 20 [3.30], 76. Other commentators were less discerning. John Morley in an article in The Fortnightly Review of August 1873 takes the argument to make the same point as Milton in Areopagitica ([3.22], III). But Milton’s point is very different from Mill’s. Milton’s contention is that if censorship is justified on the grounds of protecting people from ‘Vice and Error’, then how can those who do the censoring avoid these calamities unless it is assumed that they are proof against deception and corruption: ‘how shall the licensers themselves be confided in, unless we can confer upon them, or they assume above all others in the land, the grace of infallibility and uncorruptedness?’ ([3.20], 73). Another misinterpretation is that by John Plamenatz who takes Mill’s point to be that those engaged in the business of censorship actually come to believe that they are infallible. He thinks Mill is wrong about this: ‘It may be true that men who often silence discussion come, in the end, to believe that they are always right… But this is not nearly enough to establish Mill’s point. It does not prove that those who exercise the power only occasionally and under the guidance of a powerful tradition make any such assumption’ ([3.24], 127). 21 What Mill had in mind was the prevailing and popular view regarding the social utility of religion. In the Autobiography he refers to the ‘examination not of the truth, but of the usefulness of religious belief…which, of all the parts of the discussion concerning religion, is the most important in this age, in which real belief in any religious doctrine is feeble and precarious, but the opinion of its necessity for moral and social purposes almost universal’ (1:73). 22 Mill’s argument, which is not stated too clearly, is to be found on pp. 233–4 of Liberty. 23 I take Mill’s statement ‘it is not the feeling sure of a doctrine…which I call an assumption of infallibility. It is the undertaking to decide that question for others without allowing them to hear what can be said on the contrary side’ (234) to have this contextual relevance. 24 Or we may take Mill’s argument here as addressed to those who do not accept the proposed principle of rationality. 25 The proposal is to be taken seriously in that we can envisage such cases in terms of Mill’s non-absolutist conception of truth, namely where beliefs, though open to scrutiny, are not as a matter of fact challenged or discussed. 26 ‘The words which convey it cease to suggest ideas, or suggest only a small portion of those they were originally employed to communicate’ (249). This is the same notion as Locke’s ‘bare sounds’ without any ideas or mental significata annexed to them (Essay Concerning Human Understanding, III. 10.26 etc.). The absence of the corresponding ideas is supposed to exclude the so-called belief from the causal or associative mental chains leading to the adoption of attitudes and to action. 27 Mill’s view is that it is only by defending the belief and criticizing opposing beliefs that one really grasps its content and meaning. 28 Because its grounds involve the refutation of other opposing beliefs from which it is protected (244–5). 29 Mill is quite vague here: ‘Instead of a vivid conception and a living belief, there only remain a few phrases retained by rote; or, if any part, the shell and husk only of the meaning is retained, the finer essence being lost’ (247). 30 I am not implying that such a belief is true. Mill’s contention that absence of criticism turns a belief into a ‘dead dogma’ will apply also to the adoption of beliefs which are false. 31 Mill makes it quite clear that it is not only for an elite that he advocates freedom of discussion: ‘There have been, and may again be, great individual thinkers in a general atmosphere of mental slavery. But there never have been, nor ever will be, in that atmosphere, an intellectually active people’ (243). 32 The normative character of the criterion is brought out by the fact that consent on the part of the affected parties is meant to ensure the self-regarding nature of the relevant actions. 33 Mill is here primarily concerned about the liability of ‘personal errors’ such as intemperance or extravagance to legal and moral penalties. However, the discussion naturally leads him to specify the criteria of self-regarding and other-regarding conduct. 34 The example is not Mill’s. A parallel case he mentions is where someone by damaging his own property supposedly ‘diminishes…the general resources of the community’ (280). 35 Mill’s examples refer to the prohibition on the eating of pork in a Muslim society and of Protestant forms of worship in a Catholic country. Mill does discuss Sabbatarian legislation and restrictions but not in relation to contingent injury. 36 (2) calls for a similar response. But Mill does not adopt it because he takes the view that where individuals directly harm themselves by some form of self-indulgence, the example is likely to make others avoid that kind of conduct because ‘it displays…the painful or degrading consequences…attendant on it’ (283). 37 For a fuller discussion of this feature of self-regarding conduct see Wollheim [3.35] and Ten [3.31], 19ff. Honderich argues that there is no basis for assigning this idea to Liberty. 38 ‘There are many who consider as an injury to themselves any conduct which they have a distaste for, and resent it as an outrage to their feelings; as a religious bigot, when charged with disregarding the feelings of others, has been known to retort that they disregarded his feelings, by persisting in their abominable worship or creed. But there is no parity between the feeling of a person for his own opinion, and the feeling of another who is offended at his holding it; no more than between the desire of a thief to take a purse, and the desire of the right owner to keep it’ (283). Ten [3.31] takes this passage to refer to the idea of moralitydependent harm. Honderich [3.14] finds only the last sentence to give off no more than a ring in support of Ten. I draw attention to the passage also because of the implicit reference to rights and duties. 39 Compare ‘Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing’ (263). And: ‘A person whose desires and impulses are his own—are the expression of his own nature, as it has been developed and modified by his own culture—is said to have a character. One whose desires and impulses are not his own, has no character; no more than a steam-engine has a character’ (264). Also compare Mill’s critique of the Calvinistic ‘conception of humanity’ which takes its nature to be bestowed on it for no other purpose than ‘merely to be abnegated’ (265–6). Gertrude Himmelfarb points out that Mill assumed that a larger amount of ‘the raw material of human nature’ meant that though there was a greater potential for evil, there was also a greater potential for good ([3.12], 63). 40 I use ‘autonomous’ to refer to nothing more than the kind of choice (and life) that Mill assigns to the ‘individually spontaneous’ person. 41 ‘He who does anything because it is the custom, makes no choice’ (262). 42 For the distinction between the positive and the negative sense of freedom, see Isaiah Berlin, ‘Two Concepts-of Liberty’, [3.4], 122ff. When Mill refers to freedom of speech it is wholly in the negative sense of freedom from external coercive barriers to expression and discussion of opinion. But where action is concerned, he adds the further requirement regarding the character of the choice determining it. Unlike Rousseau and the Hegelian idealists, he does not abandon ‘negative freedom’ in favour of a positive conception. 43 Compare ‘Such are the differences among human beings in their sources of pleasure, their susceptibilities of pain, and the operation on them of different physical and moral agencies, that unless there is a corresponding diversity in their modes of life, they neither obtain their fair share of happiness, nor grow up to the mental, moral, and aesthetic stature of which their nature is capable’ (270). And: ‘In proportion to the development of his individuality, each person becomes more valuable to himself… There is a greater fullness of life about his own existence’ (266). Also compare Wilhelm von Humboldt’s views in The Sphere and Duties of Government—which Mill quotes with approval: ‘the end of man…is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole’ (261). Humboldt contrasts the partial and one-sided development of the individual’s separate human capacities with ‘harmoniously combining them’ so as to achieve an organic unity of life, a ‘union of the past and the future with the present’ ([3.15], 16–17). Cf. Ten [3.31], 73. 44 In Liberty Mill refers to ‘the limits imposed by the rights and interests of others’ on freedom of action (266) and speaks of ‘certain interests which either by express legal provision or by tacit understanding ought to be considered as rights’ (276). In the Autobiography he assigns to Liberty as its ‘leading thought’, ‘the doctrine of the rights of individuality’ (1:260). Cf. Berger [3.3], 229; Donner [3.5], 190–1. 45 ‘Justice is a name for certain classes of moral rules, which concern the essentials of human well-being more nearly, and are therefore of more absolute obligation, than any other rules for the guidance of life; and the notion which we have found to be of the essence of the idea of justice, that of a right residing in an individual implies and testifies to this more binding obligation… The moral rules which forbid mankind to hurt one another (in which we must… include, wrongful interference with each other’s freedom) are more vital to human well-being than any maxims…which only point out the best mode of managing some department of human affairs’ (10:255). J.C.Rees distinguishes self-regarding from other-regarding conduct in terms of actions which merely affect others from those which also adversely affect the interests of others; and he takes the ‘rules of justice’ to pick out essential or vital human interests ([3.26], chapters 5 and 6). 46 Cf. Berger [3.3], 233; and Donner [3.5], 125—Aristotle conceives of ‘happiness’ or eudaimonia, ‘the most final end’, as made up of several elements, each of which is necessary for achieving it, but some of which are more valuable than others; for example, moral virtue because while those who possess it may miss out on happiness, still they can never become ‘miserable’ (Nicomachean Ethics, I, 7–10). For a discussion of Aristotle’s conception of eudaimonia as an inclusive end see Hardie ([3.10], chapter 2) and Ackrill [3.7]. 47 ‘Original’ here means ‘underived, independent, proceeding from the person directly’. Cf. The Subjection of Women, 21:314. 48 Mill’s plea that ‘exceptional individuals should be encouraged in acting differently from the mass’ because ‘in this age, the mere example of nonconformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service’ (269) surely covers the exercise of originality in both senses of the term. One can act differently from the mass, and refuse to bend the knee to custom not only by supporting novel beliefs and practices but also by subscribing to beliefs and practices, whether novel or not, only on the basis of one’s own rational assessment: the manifestation of nonconformity can also be seen as the refusal to follow custom just because it is custom or subscribe to opinions just because they are generally acknowledged. 49 Cf. Donner [3.5], 170–1. Fitzjames Stephen asks: ‘Was there ever a time or place at which no men could be improved on any point by free discussion?’ But he goes on to support a more restrictive interpretation of Mill’s criterion which justifies paternalistic intervention in every society ([3.30], 69). 50 Cf. Ten [3.31], no; and chapter 7 for a full and valuable discussion of Mill’s rejection of paternalism. 51 Mill declares that people should not be allowed to sell themselves as slaves, or otherwise contract to become someone’s slave (299–300). This is sometimes said to be inconsistent with his rejection of paternalism. But we need not take the prevention of people selling themselves into slavery as justified on paternalistic grounds. Mill advocates making any such engagement ‘null and void’, i.e. not enforceable by law or the pressure of public opinion. Clearly what this is meant to achieve is to prevent anyone else from coercing the individual to act as their slave on the basis of such a contract. The rejection of such contracts then can be taken to fall under the self-protection principle. At the same time, the exclusion of formal slavery contracts does not mean that we should also prevent someone from actually acting and living as another’s ‘slave’ of his or her own free choice (cf. Ten [3.31], 117–19). 52 The distinction Mill seeks to make here, and which he stresses is not ‘merely nominal’, is designed to show that protecting the area of self-regarding actions from coercive intervention does not preclude us from being concerned with such conduct on the part of others and from judging its worth. The doctrine of Liberty, Mill points out, is not one of ‘selfish indifference’, unconcerned about what happens to others unless one’s own interests are involved. Rather, it allows full scope for ‘disinterested exertion to promote the good of others. But disinterested benevolence can find other instruments to persuade people to their good, than whips and scourges, either of the literal or the benevolent sort’ (276–7) (also cf. 10:246). 53 [3.11], 32–3. With regard to restrictions on the sale of poisons, Mill is concerned about the liberty of the purchaser because some regulations would effectively prevent their purchase: ‘to require in all cases the certificate of a medical practitioner, would make it sometimes impossible, always expensive, to obtain the article for legitimate uses’ (294). He is not against requiring purchasers to give their name and address and specify the proposed use of the substance, and even when there is no medical prescription to require the presence of a third person to attest to the sale. Mill acknowledges the ‘right inherent in society to ward off crimes against itself by antecedent precautions’ (295). But he is also concerned that this ‘preventive function of government’ may be abused ‘for there is hardly any part of the legitimate freedom of action of a human being which would not admit of being represented, and fairly too, as increasing the facilities for some form or other of delinquency’ (294). It should be noted that Mill is here offering ‘not so much applications, as specimens of applications’ designed to illustrate the relevant kinds of reasoning entailed by his doctrine 54 The ‘general presumptions’ Mill has in mind are beliefs of the form ‘Most people would or would not want…’, ‘No one wants…’ etc. 55 Cf. Ten [3.31], 116–17; Khan [3.17], 61–5. 56 And, according to Mill, it is only in order to escape from extreme unhappiness that one would prefer to abandon a distinctive human existence (10:211). 57 Cf. ‘desiring a thing and finding it pleasant, aversion to it and thinking of it as painful, are phenomena entirely inseparable, or rather two parts of the same phenomenon; in strictness of language, two different modes of naming the same psychological fact’ (10:237). Mill justifies the claim on factual grounds; however it should be noted that for him all truths, even those of mathematics, are empirical; and that he goes on to say that ‘to desire anything, except in proportion as the idea of it is pleasant, is a physical and metaphysical impossibility’ (10:238). 58 According to Mill, the will or ‘conscious volition…which has become habitual’ is to be distinguished from desire, and may be directed to ends other than pleasure. But it is still the case that ‘will, in the beginning is entirely produced by desire; including in that term the repelling influence of pain as well as the attractive one of pleasure’ (10:238–9). (Also cf. Logic, 8:842–3). 59 Cf. ‘What was once desired as an instrument for the attainment of happiness, has come to be desired for its own sake…as part of happiness. The person is made, or thinks he would be made, happy by its mere possession; and is made unhappy by failure to obtain it’ (10:236). And: ‘Those who desire virtue for its own sake, desire it either because the consciousness of it is a pleasure, or because the consciousness of being without it is a pain, or for both reasons united’ (10:237). 60 Another such element is the provision of a sense of security as the outcome of a general acknowledgement and society’s protection of individual rights (picked out by the ‘rules of justice’—for example protecting people from unjustified infliction of injury and wrongful interference with their freedom). Without security no good can be pursued or enjoyed and no evil confidently averted. For this reason, Mill takes the claim for security to assume a ‘character of absoluteness’ so that ‘indispensability becomes a moral necessity’ (10:251). Berger divides the essential elements in Mill’s conception of happiness into two basic categories: (1) ‘the constituents and requirements for an individual’s sense of being his or her own person, of developing one’s life as one chooses—a sense of freedom, power, excitement’, and ‘whatever is necessary to maintain human dignity’. And (2) ‘those things requisite for a sense of security, the prime ones being the fulfilment by others of the rules of justice, and their respect for our rights’ ([3.3], 40–2). I am greatly indebted here and elsewhere to the late Professor Berger’s account of Mill’s moral and political views and, in particular, of Mill’s concept of happiness. For a discussion of Berger’s views see Hoag [3.13] and Ten [3.32]. 61 In a letter to Gomperz, the translator of the German edition of Utilitarianism, Mill refers to ‘the real argument’ behind his misleading statement of it and seems to accept the need for dropping the offending analogy (10:cxxvi; and 16: 62 Cf. Skorupski [3.29], 286–7. It seems to be Mill’s view that the evidence we are supposed to cite in favour of the desirability of happiness is that it is consistently and generally desired or pursued as an end and also acknowledged or accepted as such on the basis of reflection and rational consideration. If this were the case then, in the absence of a countervailing explanation, we would have a strong argument in favour of the principle of utility. 63 He declares that ‘the social feelings of mankind’ involve ‘the desire to be in unity with our fellow creatures… The social state is at once so natural, so necessary, and so habitual to man, that, except in some unusual circumstances or by an effort of voluntary abstraction, he never conceives himself otherwise than as a member of a body’ (10:231). (Cf. Berger [3.3], 44 and 59–61 for a fuller discussion of this aspect of Mill’s views.) 64 The argument proceeds on the basis that social life is requisite for the individual’s own happiness and a requisite of social life is a concern for the general welfare ([3.3], 59). 65 According to Berger, the proof is addressed to intuitionists who held that our moral feelings are the sole foundation of moral obligations and judgements ([3–3], 53–4). 66 But, as Skorupski points out, this is not enough. We need to know on what principles the good of individuals is to be incorporated into the general good ([3.29], 287). (For a discussion of this and related issues see chapter 9.) 67 Referring to Mill’s proof, Berger writes: ‘It is tempting…to say that there is a missing premise or assumption here, namely, that Mill believed there is a strong connection between the individual’s welfare and the general welfare. Each individual’s welfare is included in the general welfare, so, if a person desires that person’s own welfare, and it is therefore a good to them, the general welfare is also a good to them. Of course, it does not follow that they desire the general welfare, because they may not see the connection; yet, it will be true that the general welfare is good for them. Moreover, they can come to desire the general welfare when made aware of the connection, especially if social life is requisite for their happiness, and a requisite of social life is a regard for the general welfare’ ([3.3], 59). This would make it possible, at least technically, to hold on to the general welfare or happiness as a necessary feature of the moral standard. 68 Part of what Mill says concerning the mechanism of parliamentary government is also to be found in two other essays published in 1859—Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform and Recent Writers on Reform (19:311ff.). The latter contains a review of Thomas Hare’s A Treatise on the Election of Representatives (1859) containing the proposal for an electoral system based on proportional representation involving a national quota of votes for entry to parliament together with preferential voting, a scheme that Mill enthusiastically supported. Having, as he thinks, answered objections brought against the scheme, he predicts that its implementation will usher in a new era of parliamentary government (19:453–65). But he does not consider the standard objection that such a system is likely to introduce political instability and allow minorities to wield power out of proportion to their size or importance. 69 He also discusses other matters which cut across this division, such as the forms of government best suited to the rule of colonies by a democracy (19:562ff.). 70 He refers to this as the power of ‘self-protection’ (19:404, 21:301). However, this feature of democracy has no relation to the self-protection principle mentioned in Liberty. 71 See 19:399–403, 467–9. etc. 72 He wants minimum proficiency in the three R’s: the voter should be able to ‘copy a sentence from an English book, and perform a sum in the rule of three’ (19:471). He also stipulates that every voter should be a taxpayer, so that those who elect legislatures will have a special interest in keeping expenditure and taxes down. But to allow most people to qualify under this rule, he recommends that a direct tax in lieu of some existing indirect taxes should be levied on all adults. Other categories of exclusion are undischarged bankruptcy and nonpayment of taxes, and ‘the receipt of parish relief (19:472). 73 ‘So long as an opinion is strongly rooted in the feelings, it gains rather than loses in stability by having a preponderating weight of argument against it…; the worse it fares in argumentative contest, the more persuaded its adherents are that their feeling must have some deeper ground, which the arguments do not reach; and while the feeling remains, it is always throwing up fresh entrenchments of arguments to repair any breach made in the old’ (21:261). 74 Also cf. 21:273, 280; Liberty 301, and Papers on Women’s Rights, the joint product of Mill and his wife, Harriet, 21:386. 75 Also cf. Representative Government, 19:479–81; and 21:386–7. 76 For example, the contention that women’s ‘greater nervous susceptibility’ makes them too impulsive and changeable, incapable of perseverance, uncertain, etc. so that they are not fit for anything but raising a family! Or the view that men are superior to women in mental capacity because they have a larger brain (21:307–12). 77 Another reason for Mill to review these arguments might be the fact that they were BIBLIOGRAPHY This bibliography contains works cited in the text together with a few other items of interest. 3.1 Ackrill, J.L. ‘Aristotle on Eudaimonia’, Proceedings of the British Academy 60 (1974):339–59. 3.2 Bain, A. John Stuart Mill: with Personal Recollections, London: Longmans Green, 1882. 3.3 Berger, F.R. Happiness, Justice and Freedom: The Moral and Political Philosophy of John Stuart Mill, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. 3.4 Berlin, I. ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’, ‘John Stuart Mill and the Ends of Life’, in Four Essays on Liberty, London: Oxford University Press, 1969. 3.5 Donner, W. The Liberal Self: John Stuart Mill’s Moral and Political Philosophy, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1991. 3.6 Froude, J.A. Life of Carlyle, abridged and ed. by J.Clubbe, London: John Murray, commonly used in public debate and he wants to provide opponents of discrimination with the details regarding their refutation. It should be recognized that Mill saw The Subjection of Women to be a manifesto for legal and social reform—as he said in a letter to Bain, he wanted ‘to stir up the zeal of women themselves…, excite the enthusiasm in women which is necessary to break down the old barriers’ (17:1623). 78 Also cf. 21:302. As part of the social forces which are said to produce female character traits and mental capacities, Mill assigns a central function to ‘the education given to women—an education of the sentiments rather than of the understanding and the habits which are the outcome of their restricted life-styles’ (21:330). Mill does not deny that the subordination of women may seem to be natural, for: ‘unnatural generally means only uncustomary, and… everything that is usual appears natural The subjection of women to men being a universal custom, any departure from it quite naturally appears unnatural’ (21:270). 79 Women, according to Mill, are indoctrinated to be submissive and obedient ‘by representing to them meekness, submissiveness and resignation of all individual will, into the hands of a man, as an essential part of sexual attractiveness’ (21:272). This is reflected in the work of women writers, so that the ‘greater part of what women write about women is mere sycophancy to men’ (21:279). 80 ‘its psychological contribution is the book’s great achievement: Mill’s psychology is grounded in a more lucid distinction between prescription and description than one encounters in Freud, and a far more intelligent grasp of the effects of environment and circumstance. Mill is also sensitive to the mechanisms by which conservative thought construes the status quo into the inevitable’ (Millett [3.19], 96). Kate Millett’s account of Mill’s views as contrasted with those of Ruskin is an important contribution to our understanding of the issues involved ([3.19], 88–108). 81 For example, the 1852 edition of the Logic carried a footnote which deplored the common use of the pronoun ‘he’ to refer to human beings in general, and went on to point out that this was ‘more than a defect in language; tending greatly to prolong the almost universal habit, of thinking and speaking of half the human species as the whole’. Although the footnote was deleted in later editions, its existence indicates an awareness on Mill’s part of the ‘genderbias’ attaching to language ([3.34], 136). 1979. 3.7 Gray, J. Mill on Liberty: A Defence, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983. 3.8——(1991) Liberalisms: Essays in Political Philosophy, London, Routledge, 1991. 3.9 Gorovitz, S. ed. Mill’s Utilitarianism, Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1971. 3.10 Hardie, W.F.R. Aristotle’s Ethical Theory, 2nd edn, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980. 3.11 Hart, H.L.A. Law, Liberty.and Morality, London: Oxford University Press, 1964. 3.12 Himmelfarb, G. On Liberty and Liberalism: The Case of John Stuart Mill, New York: Alfred Knopf, 1974. 3.13 Hoag, R.W. ‘Happiness and Freedom: Recent Work on John Stuart Mill’, Philosophy & Public Affairs 15 (1986):188–99. 3.14 Honderich, T. ‘On Liberty and Morality-dependent Harms’, Political Studies, 30 (1982):504–14. 3.15 Humboldt, W.von The Limits of State Action, ed. by J.W.Burrow, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969. 3.16 James, W. ‘On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings’, in Selected Papers on Philosophy, London, J.M.Dent, 1961. 3.17 Khan, R.F. ‘Mental Retardation and Paternalistic Control’, in R.S.Laura and A.F.Ashman, eds, Moral Issues in Mental Retardation, London: Croom Helm, 1985. 3.18 Mill, J.S. Collected Works, 33 vols, ed. by J.M.Robson, Toronto and London: University of Toronto Press, and Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963–91. 3.19 Millett, K. Sexual Politics, London, Virago Press, 1983. 3.20 Milton, J. Areopagitica: A Speech to the Parliament of England for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing, London, Hunter & Stevens, 1819. 3.21 Monro, D.H. ‘Liberty of Expression: Its Grounds and Limits II’, Inquiry, 13 (1970):238–53. 3.22 Morley, J. ‘Mr Mill’s Doctrine of Liberty’ in P.Stansky, ed., John Morley: Nineteenth Century Essays, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1970. 3.23 Packe, M. St. J. The Life of John Stuart Mill, London: Seeker & Warburg, 1954. 3.24 Plamenatz, J. The English Utilitarians, 2nd edn, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958. 3.25 Popper, K.R. The Logic of Scientific Discovery, London: Hutchinson, 1959. 3.26 Rees, J.C. John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985. 3.27 Ryan, A. J.S.Mill, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974. 3.28 Schneewind, J.B. ed. Mill: A Collection of Critical Essays, New York: Doubleday, 1968. 3.29 Skorupski, J. John Stuart Mill, London: Routledge, 1989. 3.30 Stephen, J.F. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity ed. by R.J.White, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967. 3.31 Ten, C.L. Mill on Liberty, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980. 3.32——‘Mill’s Defence of Liberty’, in K.Haakonssen, ed., Traditions of Liberalism: Essays on John Locke, Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, Sydney: Centre for Independent Studies, 1988. 3.33 Thompson, D.F. John Stuart Mill and Representative Government, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976. 3.34 Tulloch, G. Mill and Sexual Equality, Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989. 3.35 Wollheim, R. ‘John Stuart Mill and the Limits of State Action’, Social Research 40 (1973):1–30. 3.36 Wood, J.C., ed. John Stuart Mill: Critical Assessment, vol. I, London: Croom Helm, 1987.

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