John Stuart Mill

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John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill (London, 1806 - Aviñón, France, 1873) philosopher, political writer, economist; he was the last of the English classical economists.

Homeschooled by his father with the assistance of Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place (Following the principles of the Rousseau's Emilio). Mill supported laissez-faire but with social reforms like redistribution of wealth, shorter working days, and regulation of monopolies. Mill was ahead of his time in advocating the development of labor unions and farm cooperatives, and emancipation (voting) by women. He sympathized with the North in the American Civil War. He was also an atheist.

In his book "On Liberty," Mill advocated that "the 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." This statement is called Mill's harm principle.[1] He advocated freedom of speech, and generally freedom of action too. Mill also advocated utilitarianism, a concept previously proposed by the atheist Jeremy Bentham.

In 1851, John Stuart Mill married Harriet Taylor. She was a significant influence on Mill's work and reinforced his advocacy of women's rights.

Today he would be called a "moderate conservative" due to his support of some government controls over the economy and because his harm principle, popular among liberals[2] and libertarians,[3] often leads to results that directly contradict social conservatism.


  • "He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. [1]
  • "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
  • "I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it."

See also


  1. Lectures 15 & 16: Liberty and the Harm Principle
  2. Two Liberal Fallacies in the Hate Crimes Debate
  3. Harm Principle Information