John Stuart Mill and Utilitarianism

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The paper presents the life of John Stuart Mill through his biography. A glimpse on his exceptional life as a child was also included in his biography. Likewise, his major contributions as a philosopher and economist were also discussed.

Since John Stuart Mill was a proponent of utilitarianism, the paper focuses its discussion on Mill and utilitarianism. The views of John Stuart Mill on utilitarianism and how it differs from Bentham’s views were given much attention in the paper.

The history of utilitarianism was also presented to show how utilitarianism evolved. The confusions of many people, regarding who the real founder of utilitarianism, was clarified through the history of utilitarianism.


John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), is a British philosopher-economist, who is the son of James Mill. He is one of the best 19th century thinkers. In economics, he was influenced by the theories of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Thomas Robert Malthus, and his Principles of Political Economy is a little more than a restatement of their ideas. He had a great impact on 19th century British thought, not only in philosophy and economics but also in the areas of political science, logic, and ethics.

He was a proponent of utilitarianism. He systematized the utilitarian doctrines of his father and Jeremy Bentham in such works as Utilitarianism (1863), basing knowledge upon human experience and emphasizing human reason. In political economy, Mill advocated those policies that he believed most consistent with individual liberty, and he emphasized that liberty could be threatened as much by social as by political tyranny. He is probably most famous for his essay “On Liberty” (1859). He studied pre-Marxian socialist doctrine, and, although he did not become a socialist, he worked actively for improvement of the conditions of the working people.

Utilitarianism is a philosophy which has been around for centuries, and is still active and popular in the modern world. It is important not only in philosophy itself, but in disciplines such as economics, political science, and decision theory. To some people, Utilitarianism seems to be the only ethical philosophy which is obviously correct. To others, it seems to be quite misconceived, even reprehensible.

Biography of John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was a British philosopher, economist, moral and political theorist, and administrator. He was the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century. His views are of continuing significance, and are generally recognized to be among the deepest and certainly the most effective defenses of empiricism and of a liberal political view of society and culture. The overall aim of his philosophy is to develop a positive view of the universe and the place of humans in it, one which contributes to the progress of human knowledge, individual freedom and human well-being. John Stuart Mill was born on May 20, 1806 in Pentonville, London. He was the eldest son of James Mill, a Scottish philosopher and historian who had come to London and become a leading figure in the group of philosophical radicals which aimed to further the utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham. His mother was Harriet Barrow, who seems to have had very little influence upon him. Mill was educated by his father, with the advice and assistance of Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place. He was given an extremely rigorous upbringing, and was deliberately shielded from association with children of his own age other than his siblings. His father, a follower of Bentham and an adherent of associationism, had as his explicit aim to create a genius intellect that would carry on the cause of utilitarianism and its implementation after he and Bentham were dead. John Stuart Mill as a child was exceptional. At the age of three he was taught the Greek alphabet and long lists of Greek words with their English...
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