Two years after Mill founded the Utilitarian Society, Bentham and a few friends launched the as an official organ for utilitarian ideas. In its first four years (1824-28) Mill, despite his youth, was a frequent contributor on a wide range of themes, which he treated in the spirit of utilitarian orthodoxy. He criticized the follies of aristocratic rule in Britain and Ireland, the illusions of chivalry formerly associated with aristocracy, the vested interests of great landowners in corn and game laws, and the ills of a faulty journalism. He strove to liberate the English press from the trammels of an abused and arbitrary law of libel and the burden of press duties. Mill like his father and other contemporary Radicals saw in the freedom of the press the essential instrument for mobilizing opinion, breaking down resistance to reform, and creating that degree of popular discontent which would compel the aristocratic government to make substantial concessions. He was naturally inspired by his father’s famous essay on “Liberty of the Press,” first published in 1821 as a supplement to the He accepted his parent’s uncompromising belief that no special laws should exist to hamper the freedom of newspapers to print facts and advance opinions to protect the people against the tyranny of a government.
Notice that these relationships among duty, justice, and rights donot yet introduce any utilitarian elements. But Mill does think thatwhether sanctions ought to be applied to an action—and hencewhether it is wrong—and whether society ought to enforce anindividual's claim—and hence whether she has a right—bothdepend upon the utility or expediency of doing so (V 25). He does notsay precisely what standard of expediency he has in mind. Inparticular, he does not say whether the relevant test for whethersomething is wrong requires that sanctions be optimal or merelybeneficial. To fix ideas, let us assume that an action is wrong if andonly if it is optimal to sanction it.
Utilitarianism: John Stuart Mill
So far, Mill's various claims about duty are largely consistent withdirect utilitarianism, and, hence, act utilitarianism. However, ChapterV of Utilitarianism introduces claims about duty, justice, andrights that are hard to square with either.
UTILITARIANISM by John Stuart Mill - Marxists Internet …
Lewis was a man of Mill’s own age, equipped with similar precocious erudition, and of utilitarian sympathies. His book dealt with the relation of logic to politics, a topic in which Mill was then too deeply interested to treat casually. Two years later he confessed to Carlyle that his review was an outgrowth from his own mind and the truest he had ever written—that is, it was no mere product of an orthodox utilitarian schooling. He commended Lewis’s attempt to bring a lucid logic into the language of politics, since slovenly thinking and equivocal words were together the bane of political discussion. But he took strong exception to certain points, of which the most important concerned rights. Lewis, following his teacher John Austin, argued that all rights are creations of law and the will of the sovereign. To call anything a right which is not enforceable in the courts is an abuse of language. In contrast Mill emphasized the reality of moral rights. He contended that, in saying that no man has a moral right to think as he pleases, for he ought to inform himself and think justly, Dr. Johnson refers to a right Lewis evidently fails to comprehend. Yet for Mill a right in the Johnsonian sense is no abuse of terms; it is good logic and good English. Rights are the correlatives of obligations and duties, and moral as well as legal rights have a necessary and significant place in the contemporary state. It is a moral right of subjects to be well-governed and a moral duty of the sovereign to govern well. The focus of this criticism is the mischief inherent in unduly simplified and inflexible concepts. Mill reacts here against the rigidity of some utilitarian logicians. His further complaint concerned the apparent and unjustified contempt with which Lewis disposed of Locke and Rousseau for assuming an unhistorical and fictitious state of nature and a social contract. Mill believed that it was inconsequential whether anything like a state of nature existed. The real issue was the extent to which as an hypothesis it shed light on the fact of a morality outside the law to which men could appeal. To Mill as to Locke such morality was important. Independent states in relations with one another remained in a state of nature, without a common superior, but responsive to moral obligations and duties. However unskilfully formulated, the old theories of the social contract and the inalienable rights of man in Mill’s opinion had a rightful place in the evolution of political liberty and justice by indicating a pragmatic limit on the power of the sovereign. He concluded his review of Lewis’s book by emphasizing the necessity of recognizing, despite all the linguistic differences, the close relationship between ideas of different political thinkers, and also the possibility of combining them into a whole.
John Stuart Mill's classic exposition of utilitarian ..
As a British radical, Mill from youth was profoundly interested in the United States. For him and most of his fellow utilitarians the republic was a unique experiment of a democracy in action, and hence important for all European liberals. Unlike the Tory writers of the they looked to America to demonstrate the virtues of democracy, and abundant praise of the United States became their orthodox practice. They admired it for experimenting with new social ideas, rejecting an established church, extending franchise laws, promoting popular education, recognizing a free press, and believing in a free economy. Such was Jeremy Bentham’s enthusiasm for America that to Andrew Jackson he described himself as “more of a United Statesman than an Englishman.” For him and his disciples the republic seemed to apply the principle of utility more assiduously than did Britain.