Day 105 — John Stuart Mill

While John Stuart Mill lived through times where England was at war, where dictators and revolution existed — his primary concern was something called the “tyranny of the majority”, an issue that greatly informed this public servant and political economist’s philosophy.

He is most known for taking on the lessons of an earlier philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, on Utilitarianism — where “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” was proposed as the guiding force as to whether an act was moral— and further refining it in works such as On Liberty.

Mill defends freedom of thought and expression, and proposes that society should only limit the liberty of the individual in order to prevent harm to another. This harm principle does not require belief in a deity, as in the ethics of Kant.

Mill also encouraged social progress and individualism though discussing ideas and opinions, as he believed that truths should be subject to critical review. He was also one of the first philosophers to encourage the rights of women in his writing, through the influence on his work by his wife, Harriet Taylor.

Further Resources:

John Stuart Mill — Utilitarianism

Harriet Taylor Mill