John Stuart Mill #2

John Stuart Mill #2 - John Stuart Mill: 11-09-06 I. Mill's...

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John Stuart Mill: 11-09-06 I. Mill's “Individualism” A. The classic complaint about liberalism is that it cares too much about the individual; people only have to care about themselves, not about the common good. 1. Liberalism says that it is okay to look out for your own self interest. This concept comes straight form liberalism's treasure—individual rights and individual liberty. 2. Liberalism is really a political theory of individual selfishness. B. The individual is at the heart of Mill's On Liberty . 1. The first thing to notice about Mill's account of liberalism is that he attacks self-interest, and he even attacks Christianity for a certain type of individualism. a. Christianity makes people think only whether or not they will get into heaven or hell (p. 94) b. Mill treasures individual liberty and wants people to live according to their wishes, as long as they do not harm others; but they should not be self-interested. c. Mill defends individual liberty not so people can be selfish, but rather so they can develop as individuals. It is the prize of human development that Mill constantly seeks. 2. One of the key things for human development is a variety of situations; this means we cannot coerce others to do as we want them to do. It does mean that we can try to persuade them. a. For Mill, the choice is between coercion and persuasion. If we persuade people, we of course must interact with them. (p. 51) b. Mill argues that we cannot interfere with the actions of others unless we are doing so in order to protect ourselves, but we can talk to them and persuade them (p. 123) c. We should be interested in the ideas and lives of others, but we cannot coerce them. 3. Mill is interested in bettering the human condition through inquiry. If we do not pursue inquiry, people will walk through life as ghosts, not knowing why they're doing things. 4. Mill wants a public that is constantly debating and discussing ideas, and this will work against the notion of self interest (p. 160) a. Mill wants us to debate and discuss with people how our interactions and interests overlap, so that we can see that we are not just individuals. We are a part of something much larger. b. Through debate and discussion, we will become more aware of the world around us.
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This note was uploaded on 01/20/2012 for the course POLI 271 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at UNC.

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John Stuart Mill #2 - John Stuart Mill: 11-09-06 I. Mill's...

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