FREE John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism Essay
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We now move on to one of the oldest, and most persuasive, traditionalist objections to the unity and coherence of Mill's social philosophy, and one which has furthered a number of "two Mills" theses. This objection focuses on a tension between Mill's view of mind and action, the tension between his theory of human nature (presupposed by Mill's liberalism) and that to which he explicitly commits himself in his "official" philosophical canon. Broadly speaking, traditional critics point to a tension between the empirical, more deterministic, and passive conception of human nature (defended, with several changes of emphasis, in Mill's 1843 System of Logic and in his 1865 Examination of Hamilton's Philosophy), and the view of the mind as free, active, and creatively ordering the raw data of experience. This second view seems presupposed by the argument of On Liberty, and Mill gestures towards it in such occasional pieces as his essay on "Two Varieties of Poetry." This traditional criticism of Mill is powerfully made by a nineteenth-century writer, Charles Douglas, in his John Stuart Mill (1895):
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J.P. Dryer's contribution, on which Brown draws in part, entitled "Mill's Utilitarianism" may be found in Essays on Ethics, Religion and Society, J.M. Robson, ed., Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, 1969.