Political philosophy, ethics, economics, inductive logic
Public/private sphere, hierarchy of pleasures in Utilitarianism, liberalism, early liberal feminism, harm principle, Mill's Methods
Part of a series on
Types of utilitarianism[show]
John Stuart Mill, FRSE (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873) was a British philosopher, political economist and civil servant. He was an influential contributor to social theory, political theory and political economy. He has been called "the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century". Mill's conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control.
Mill expresses his view on freedom by illustrating how an individual's amelioration of personal quality and self improvement is the sole source of true freedom. That only when an individual is able to attain such a beneficial standard of one's self, whilst in the absence of rendering external onerosity upon others, in their own journey to procure a higher calibre of self worth, that true freedom resides. Mill's attitude toward freedom and individual accomplishment through self improvement has inspired many throughout time. By establishing an appreciable level of worthiness concerned with one's ability to fulfill personal standards of notability and merit, Mill was able to provide many with a principle example of how they should achieve such particular values.
He was a proponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham. Hoping to remedy the problems found in an inductive approach to science, such as confirmation bias, he clearly set forth the premises of falsifiability as the key component in the scientific method. Mill was also a Member of Parliament and an important figure in liberal political philosophy.
Mill saw women's issues as important and began to write in favour of greater rights for women. With this, Mill can be considered among the earliest women's rights advocates. His book The Subjection of Women (1861, published 1869) is one of the earliest written on this subject by a male author. In "The Subjection of Women" Mill attempts to prove that the legal subjugation of women is wrong and that it should give way to perfect equality. He talks about the role of women in marriage and how he felt it needed to be changed. There, Mill comments on three major facets of women's lives that he felt are hindering them: society and gender construction, education, and marriage. He felt that the oppression of women was one of the few remaining relics from ancient times, a set of prejudices that severely impeded the progress of humanity.
Mill's ideas were opposed by Ernest Belfort Bax in his treatise, The Legal Subjection of Men.