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Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

5. Freedom and Justice  

Robert Garner

This chapter examines two related, but distinct, political concepts — justice and freedom. It first considers various possible constraints on freedom before discussing the degree to which freedom is desirable. It then explores various alternative values that might conflict with freedom, mainly in the context of John Stuart Mill’s political thought; these include equality, paternalism, and happiness. The chapter proceeds by analysing the concept of justice and various criteria for determining its meaning in the context of the major competing theories of justice provided by John Rawls and Robert Nozick. Finally, it evaluates alternative theories of justice which challenge the conventional liberal view that theories of justice should focus only on the nation-state and are applicable only to human beings.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

5. Freedom and Justice  

Robert Garner

This chapter examines two related, but distinct, political concepts—justice and freedom. It first considers various possible constraints on freedom before discussing the degree to which freedom is desirable. It then explores various alternative values that might conflict with freedom, mainly in the context of John Stuart Mill’s political thought; these include equality, paternalism, and happiness. The chapter proceeds by analysing the concept of justice and various criteria for determining its meaning in the context of the major competing theories of justice provided by John Rawls and Robert Nozick. Finally, it evaluates alternative theories of justice which challenge the conventional liberal view that theories of justice should focus only on the nation-state and are applicable only to human beings.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

1. Introduction  

David Boucher and Paul Kelly

This volume introduces a canon of major political thinkers from ancient Greece to the present, including Socrates and the Sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine of Hippo, Hugo Grotius, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Hannah Arendt, John Rawls, and Michel Foucault. The text focuses on the ways that these thinkers have shaped the intellectual architecture of our modern conceptions of the scope of politics and its place in social life. This introductory chapter discusses the origins of the study of political thought as a distinct activity and describes four sets of considerations that shape approaches to the study of political thought and help answer the question of why we should study it. It also analyses the problem of so-called perennial questions and the attempt to explain and defend what it is that makes a book a ‘classic’ text.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

22. J. S. Mill on Liberty  

Paul Kelly

This chapter examines John Stuart Mill's views on liberty. It first provides a short biography of Mill before discussing his revision of psychological hedonism in light of accusations by Thomas Carlyle, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his followers, that Mill's hedonistic naturalism is no better than a philosophy for ‘swine’. Mill addressed this charge by drawing a categorical distinction between higher and lower pleasures. The chapter also considers the equally problematic attempt to derive Mill's liberty principle from an act-utilitarian moral philosophy as well as the claim that Mill's religion of humanity involves a form of moral and philosophical coercion as great as anything he challenges. It concludes with an analysis of Mill's Considerations on Representative Government and shows that its defence of constitutional democracy reflects his philosophical liberalism.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

12. John Stuart Mill  

Inder S. Marwah

This chapter assesses John Stuart Mill’s political philosophy, focusing on two particular features of his thought. First is Mill’s relation to the liberal political tradition. Second are his writings on race, gender, and empire, which have in recent years come into greater prominence. The chapter begins by highlighting Mill’s contributions to liberal political theory and utilitarian ethics, the two traditions of thought with which he’s most commonly associated. It then examines his views on government and democracy. The chapter also considers Mill’s views on human diversity and difference, showing how his treatments of race, empire, and gender intersect with his liberalism. Finally, it reflects on what we might think about his political philosophy in light of his imperialist entanglements.

Chapter

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy

4. The Place of Liberty  

This chapter explores the theory that, to avoid the ‘tyranny of the majority’, we should be given the liberty to act just as we wish, provided that we do no harm to others. The focus is on John Stuart Mill's Liberty Principle (also known as the Harm Principle), according to which you may justifiably limit a person's freedom of action only if they threaten harm to another. The chapter considers Mill's arguments based on the Liberty Principle, including his claim there should be complete freedom of thought and discussion, and that harming another's interests is not a sufficient condition to justify constraint. It also discusses justifications for the Liberty Principle by focusing on issues of rights and utility, individuality and progress, and liberty as an intrinsic good. It concludes with an analysis of some of the problems of the kind of liberalism espoused by Mill's Liberty Principle.

Chapter

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy

3. Who Should Rule?  

This chapter considers the question of what sort of state and government we should have. A common assumption is that only a democracy is ever fully justifiable. Anything else—a tyranny, an aristocracy, an absolute monarchy—lacks justification. But what is a democracy? Is it really so attractive? The chapter explores some of the most fundamental problems in formulating democratic theory before looking at arguments for and against democracy itself. It first examines the tension between the idea of democracy as a system of ‘majority rule’, and the idea of democratic ‘consideration for individuals’. It then analyses Plato’s arguments against democracy, focusing on his use of the so-called craft analogy to defend his position, along with his concept of guardianship. It also discusses Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s notion of the general will and concludes with an overview of representative democracy.

Chapter

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy

4. The Place of Liberty  

This chapter explores the theory that, to avoid the ‘tyranny of the majority’, we should be given the liberty to act just as we wish, provided that we do no harm to others. The focus is on John Stuart Mill’s Liberty Principle (also known as the Harm Principle), according to which you may justifiably limit a person’s freedom of action only if they threaten harm to another. The chapter considers Mill’s arguments based on the Liberty Principle, including his claim there should be complete freedom of thought and discussion, and that harming another’s interests is not a sufficient condition to justify constraint. It also discusses justifications for the Liberty Principle by focusing on issues of rights and utility, individuality and progress, and liberty as an intrinsic good. It concludes with an analysis of some of the problems of the kind of liberalism espoused by Mill’s Liberty Principle.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

23. J. S. Mill on the Subjection of Women  

Jennifer Ring

This chapter examines John Stuart Mill's treatise The Subjection of Women, a manifesto of liberal feminism that advocates ‘perfect equality’ between the sexes. Written in 1861 and published in 1869, The Subjection of Women has been criticised by contemporary feminist theorists, who find Mill's theory lacking because of its political shortcomings and contradictions. The chapter analyses the political and intellectual context in which The Subjection of Women was written as well as its significance from the standpoint of contemporary feminist theory. It considers Mill's relationship with his father, James Mill, and with his wife, Harriet Taylor, along with the emergence of the women's rights movement in the United States and England. It also assesses the political import and methodological perspective of the work and concludes with a discussion of Mill's utilitarianism.