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On Liberty and Utilitarianism
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553214144, Paperback)Together these two essays mark the philosophic cornerstone of democratic morality and represent a thought-provoking search for the true balance between the rights of the individual and the power of the state. Thoroughly schooled in the principles of the utilitarian movement founded by Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill nevertheless brings his own unique intellectual energy to issues such as individual freedom, equality, authority, happiness, justice, and virtue.
On Liberty is Mill’s famous examination of the nature of individuality and its crucial role in any social system that expects to remain creative and vital. Utilitarianism brilliantly expounds a pragmatic ethic based on one controversial proposition: actions are right only if they promote the common good and wrong if they do not. While much of Mill’s thinking was eventually adopted by socialists, it is in today’s democratic societies—with their troubling issues of crime, freedom of speech, and the boundaries of personal liberty—that his work resounds most powerfully.
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:00 -0400)
On Liberty (1859) and Utilitarianism (1861) are the two most enduring works of the great British economist, philosopher and ethical theorist John Stuart Mill. In the former he not only built a powerful case for freedom of speech, but also argued that the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest. In Utilitarianism he developed Bentham's Greatest Happiness Principle into a more sophisticated ethical system, famously acknowledging Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. For Mill, To do as one would be done by, and to love one's neighbour as oneself, constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality. It is a far cry from the utilitarianism parodied in Dickens novel Hard Times.
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