John Stuart Mill

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John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill (London, 1806 - Aviñón, France, 1873) philosopher, political writer, economist; he is considered by many historians to be among the last of the English classical economists. However, Mill is also regarded as a Socialist.[1][2][3] Friedrich Hayek regarded Mill as a father of English Socialism,[4] as did several Fabian socialists.[5] Mill is credited with first coining the term "dystopia" (the opposite of "utopia").

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 agnostic.

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.[6] 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. Mill treated his wife as his intellectual equal[7] and so Taylor was able to publish a great deal of her own work, such as "The Enfranchisement of Women".

John Stuart Mill is regarded as being a classical liberal,[8] among the likes of Thomas Paine[9] and John Locke.[10] This is due to his favour of free market, albeit with some government intervention such as a tax on alcohol, and his belief in social liberalism, detailed in his magnum opus, On Liberty.

He also advocated for individualism to a certain extent, citing that the individual is sovereign over his own mind and body, and should embrace the need of fulfilling himself over helping others. However, he also made clear that individual freedom has to stop short of harming others, implicitly approving of libel and slander laws, and that children needed protection from themselves. Despite this last bit, however, Mill nonetheless acted as one of four sources for the American Library Association's radicalization.[11]

Early life

John Stuart Mill was born on May 20, 1806 in a house on Rodney Street in Pentonville, London.[12] His father James was also a philosopher.


  • "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 opposing 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."
  • “A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.”

Quotes about Mill

  • "I am personally convinced that the reason which led the intellectuals, particularly of the English-speaking world, to socialism was a man who is regarded as a great hero of classical liberalism, John Stuart Mill." - Friedrich Hayek[13][14]

See also


  1. On Socialism, by John Stuart Mill
  2. Chapters on Socialism, John Stuart Mill
  3. John Stuart Mill's Socialist Thought
  4. John Stuart Mill's Political Philosophy
  5. The History of the Fabian Society, By Edward R. Pease
  6. Lectures 15 & 16: Liberty and the Harm Principle
  7. The Voice of Harriet Taylor Mill, Chapter 5
  8. []
  9. Lamb, Robert. "Liberty, Equality, and the Boundaries of Ownership: Thomas Paine's Theory of Property Rights." Review of Politics (2010)
  10. Steven M. Dworetz, The Unvarnished Doctrine: Locke, Liberalism, and the American Revolution (1989)
    "[The] Second [source of the American Library Association's radicalization], to John Stuart Mill, whose mid-19th century writing preached that the individual is sovereign over his own mind and body, and who shifted the focus of life away from helping others toward the need to fulfill the self. Yet, even Mill believed that freedom should stop short of harm to others. Thus, he accepted the need for libel and slander laws, and believed that children needed protection from themselves."
  12. John Stuart Mill: A Criticism; with Personal Recollections
  13. The Making of Modern Economics: The Lives and Ideas of Great Thinkers
  14. Interview with F.A. Hayek

External links