John Stuart Mill

Memorandum on the Improvements in the Administration of India during the Last Thirty YearsHistory of the Inductive Sciences, from the Earliest to the Present TimeA System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive, Being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence, and the Methods of Scientific Investigation

One way to read Mill's Principle of Liberty as a principle of public reason is to see it excluding certain kinds of reasons from being taken into account in legislation, or in guiding the moral coercion of public opinion. (Rawls, Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy; p. 291). These reasons include those founded in other persons good; reasons of excellence and ideals of human perfection; reasons of dislike or disgust, or of preference.

Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.

The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

To suppose that the same international customs, and the same rules of international morality, can obtain between one civilized nation and another, and between civilized nations and barbarians, is a grave error.… To characterize any conduct whatever towards a barbarous people as a violation of the law of nations, only shows that he who so speaks has never considered the subject.

This absolutely extreme case of the law of force, condemned by those who can tolerate almost every other form of arbitrary power, and which, of all others, presents features the most revolting to the feeling of all who look at it from an impartial position, was the law of civilized and Christian England within the memory of persons now living: and in one half of Anglo-Saxon America three or four years ago, not only did slavery exist, but the slave trade, and the breeding of slaves expressly for it, was a general practice between slave states. Yet not only was there a greater strength of sentiment against it, but, in England at least, a less amount either of feeling or of interest in favour of it, than of any other of the customary abuses of force: for its motive was the love of gain, unmixed and undisguised: and those who profited by it were a very small numerical fraction of the country, while the natural feeling of all who were not personally interested in it, was unmitigated abhorrence.

I cannot look forward with satisfaction to any settlement but complete emancipation—land given to every negro family either separately or in organized communities under such rules as may be found temporarily necessary—the schoolmaster set to work in every village & the tide of free immigration turned on in those fertile regions from which slavery has hitherto excluded it. If this be done, the gentle & docile character which seems to distinguish the negroes will prevent any mischief on their side, while the proofs they are giving of fighting powers will do more in a year than all other things in a century to make the whites respect them & consent to their being politically & socially equals.

Mill's view of history was that right up until his time "the whole of the female" and "the great majority of the male sex" were simply "slaves". He countered arguments to the contrary, arguing that relations between sexes simply amounted to "the legal subordination of one sex to the other—[which] is wrong itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality." Here, then, we have an instance of Mill's use of "slavery" in a sense which, compared to its fundamental meaning of absolute unfreedom of person, is an extended and arguably a rhetorical rather than a literal sense.

In his proposal for a universal education system sponsored by the state, Mill expands benefits for many marginalized groups, especially for women. For Mill, a universal education held the potential to create new abilities and novel types of behavior of which the current receiving generation and their descendants could both benefit from. Such a pathway to opportunity would enable women to gain “industrial and social independence” that would allow them the same movement in their agency and citizenship as men. Mill's view of opportunity stands out in its reach, but even more so for the population he foresees who could benefit from it. Mill was hopeful of the autonomy such an education could allow for its recipients and especially for women. Through the consequential sophistication and knowledge attained, individuals are able to properly act in ways that recedes away from those leading towards overpopulation. This stands directly in contrast with the view held by many of Mill’s contemporaries and predecessors who viewed such inclusive programs to be counter intuitive. Aiming such help at marginalized groups, such as the poor and working class, would only serve to reward them with the opportunity to move to a higher status, thus encouraging greater fertility which at its extreme could lead to overproduction.

He talks about the role of women in marriage and how it must be changed. Mill comments on three major facets of women's lives that he felt are hindering them:

Mill separated his explanation of Utilitarianism into five different sections:

I cannot, therefore, regard the stationary states of capital and wealth with the unaffected aversion so generally manifested towards it by political economists of the old school.

If the earth must lose that great portion of its pleasantness which it owes to things that the unlimited increase of wealth and population would extirpate from it, for the mere purpose of enabling it to support a larger, but not a better or a happier population, I sincerely hope, for the sake of posterity, that they will be content to be stationary, long before necessity compel them to it.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.