J S Mill On Liberty and Other Writings Cambridge Texts in

This is a significant blemish on Mill's feminist credentials. Hesometimes assumed that a traditional sexual division of labor wasnatural in the sense that it was likely to emerge in a culture ofequal opportunity for all. Given Mill's recognition that the existingdivision of labor was produced and sustained in conditions of sexualdiscrimination and unequal opportunity, there is no basis forsupposing that this division of labor would survive a culture ofequality. However, it is Mill himself that supplies the resources forcriticizing his assumption. That ought to provide partial mitigationof his mistake.

His  (1789) offers a simple statement of the application of this ethical doctrine.

This is a very select bibliography of other primary and secondarywork relevant to the study of Mill's moral and political philosophy. Itis selective, because Mill scholarship is voluminous and my knowledgeof it is limited. While it does include those works I have foundespecially interesting or useful, it is not intended to becomprehensive.


Mijn passie: nieuwe inzichten, creativiteit en groei.

()Mill fully accepted Bentham's devotion to as the basic statement of utilitarian value:

But if the rights we have are to especially important goods, then wecan see how honoring rights promotes the good. By hypothesis, it willbe best to honor rights when this conflicts with the promotion oflesser goods. We might say that rights “trump” these lessergoods. Rights don't trump the pursuit of other comparably importantgoods. These should be treated as conflicts of rights, and theutilitarian should resolve such conflicts by recourse to theutilitarian first principle and a determination of which right, in thecontext, is most important.


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Though Mill accepts the utilitarian legacy of the Radicals, hetransforms that legacy in important ways. Part of understanding Mill'scontributions to the utilitarian tradition involves understanding hisdisagreement with the Radicals on issues about human motivation and thenature of happiness.

Library of Congress Catalog Data: ISSN 1095-5054

Henry Sidgwick (1838–1900), for one, read Mill as apsychological egoist (The Methods of Ethics 42–44). Thisis not just guilt by association. For it may appear that Mill endorsespsychological egoism in his so-called “proof” of theprinciple of utility in Chapter IV of Utilitarianism. There,Mill aims to show that happiness is the one and only thing desirable initself (U IV 2). To do this, he argues that happiness isdesirable in itself (IV 3), and a central premise in this argument isthat everyone desires his own happiness (IV 3). Mill later argues thatonly happiness is desirable (IV 4).

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Popper has always drawn a clear distinction between the logic of falsifiability and its applied methodology. Thelogic of his theory is utterly simple: if a single ferrous metal isunaffected by a magnetic field it cannot be the case that all ferrousmetals are affected by magnetic fields. Logically speaking, ascientific law is conclusively falsifiable although it is notconclusively verifiable. Methodologically, however, the situation ismuch more complex: no observation is free from the possibility oferror—consequently we may question whether our experimentalresult was what it appeared to be.

Library of Congress Catalog Data: ISSN 1095-5054

Bentham does not assume that our estimates of what will maximizeutility will always be reliable. Nor does he assume that we shouldalways try to maximize utility (Principles I 13, IV 6). Doingso is costly, and we may sometimes promote utility best by not tryingto promote it directly. Nonetheless, utility, he thinks, is thestandard of right conduct.