Victorian Literature John Stuart Mill
by
Lucy Hartley
  • LAST REVIEWED: 04 October 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 June 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199799558-0100

Introduction

John Stuart Mill (b. 1806–d. 1873) was the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the 19th century. He was taught by his father, James Mill, who set out a rigorous and strictly rational system of education on utilitarian principles. He learned Greek by the age of three, and Latin by the age of eight, followed by arithmetic and geometry before commencing a thorough study of logic at the age of twelve and political economy at thirteen. He also spent a formative year in France with the family of Jeremy Bentham’s brother at the age of fourteen. The demands of his education and the isolation of his childhood contributed to what he later described in his Autobiography (1873) as his “mental crisis” of 1826. The experience caused him to reevaluate utilitarian philosophy, and he began reading Wordsworth, Coleridge, Goethe, and Carlyle, as well as Comte and the St. Simonians, and considering the possibilities for a “Radical philosophy” that could improve humanity by cultivating the feelings and imagination as well as the intellect. Mill worked as a civil servant at the East India Company (like his father) for more than thirty years, beginning in 1826. In addition, he became a regular contributor to the Westminster Review, founded by the philosophical radicals in 1824, and he published important essays on “Civilization” (1836), “Bentham” (1838), and “Coleridge” (1840) and a long review of the first volume of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835). In 1830 Mill met Harriet Taylor and they began a close but unconventional relationship, because Taylor was already married. Mill and Taylor eventually married in 1851 after the death of her husband; the marriage lasted for seven years until her death in 1858. On Liberty (1859) is the most widely read and influential of Mill’s works; it presents an argument for an open society and individual freedom in terms of moral rights, shared values, and the “harm principle.” It is often considered alongside The Subjection of Women (1869), in which Mill compared the legal status of women to the status of slaves, and argued for equality in marriage under the law. Utilitarianism (1863) is also immensely important because it represents Mill’s modification of Benthamite utilitarianism through an ethics that links the rightness of actions to the promotion of happiness. His other major works are: A System of Logic (1843), Principles of Political Economy (1848), and Considerations on Representative Government (1861).

General Overviews

The following texts represent a few of the many general accounts of the work of John Stuart Mill. Robson 1968 is the key work and well worth reading, because it explains the coherence of Mill’s social and political ideas and reevaluates his ethical theory. Ryan 1987 follows Robson in presenting a persuasive case for the connections between the social and moral thought. The Mill Newsletter, published from 1965 to 1988, is a valuable repository of information about Mill. Semmel 1984 interprets Mill’s moral thought via the concept of virtue and is a useful introduction to this difficult topic, while Skorupski 2006 is a succinct overview of the most important themes in Mill’s work; it is accessible to the general reader and undergraduate students.

  • The Mill Newsletter. 1965–1988.

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    A publication of the Mill Project, edited by John Robson, Michael Laine, and Bruce Kinzer, and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1965 to 1988, after which it merged with the Bentham Newsletter to form Utilitas. It published short articles on themes, questions, and issues relating to Mill, book reviews, and a list of recent publications. Available online from the website of the UCL Bentham Project.

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    • Robson, John M. The Improvement of Mankind: The Social and Political Thought of John Stuart Mill. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968.

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      An important work that explores “the unity of Mill’s thought” from the Benthamite influence on his formative years to his mature attitudes toward morality, social progress, and the reform of government. Argues against the view that Mill’s social and political theories are inconsistent and unsystematic, and for their coherence via the ethical notion of improvement. Now out of print but available in large research libraries.

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      • Ryan, Alan. The Philosophy of John Stuart Mill. 2d ed. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1987.

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        Argues for the consistency between Mill’s views on freedom and his views on morality as part of a project to establish a science of human nature. Discusses Mill’s philosophical program for understanding human nature and demonstrates how it was part of a systematic defense of empiricist epistemology and utilitarian ethics. (Originally published in 1970.)

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        • Semmel, Bernard. John Stuart Mill and the Pursuit of Virtue. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984.

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          Offers an account of Mill’s characteristic opinions in the context of ethical, philosophical, and historical conceptions of the theory and practice of virtue. Considers the significance of the myth of Hercules, exploring its personal meaning for Mill and its relevance to his view of a good society.

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          • Skorupski, John. Why Read Mill Today? London: Routledge, 2006.

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            A polemical introduction to the major themes of Mill’s writing, which argues for the relevance of Mill in the 21st century. The last two chapters place Mill in relation to modernity and are especially useful on the continuing importance of his views of democracy, culture, and liberalism.

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            Editions

            For students and general readers who do not have access to the Collected Works (Mill 1963–1991, cited under Reference Works), these editions are widely available and relatively inexpensive. Mill 1999 and Mill and Bentham 1987 are good editions of On Liberty and Utilitarianism, with useful contextual material and introductory essays, while Mill 2008a makes the writings on economics and socialism available with a scholarly overview. Mill 2008b is useful for undergraduate teaching because it collects the four main works into a single volume.

            • Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. Edited by Edward Alexander. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 1999.

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              A valuable edition that includes a succinct introduction on Mill’s life and the development of his opinions about equality, plus a chronology and recommended readings. Also contains additional material, such as Mill’s review of Democracy of America and responses to On Liberty by Carlyle, Ruskin, Hardy, Arnold, and Eliot, as well as contemporary periodical reviews.

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              • Mill, John Stuart. Principles of Political Economy, with Chapters on Socialism. Edited by Jonathan Riley. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008a.

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                Reprints a major portion of the seventh and final library edition of Principles (published in 1871) along with the three essays on socialism (posthumously published in 1879). Includes a comprehensive and informative introduction, select bibliography, chronology, and explanatory notes.

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                • Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty, and Other Essays. Edited by John Gray. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008b.

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                  A useful edition that includes Utilitarianism, Representative Government, and Subjection with On Liberty, along with the standard scholarly apparatus.

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                  • Mill, John Stuart, and Jeremy Bentham. Utilitarianism and Other Essays. Edited by Alan Ryan. London: Penguin, 1987.

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                    Scrupulous edition, which also includes the essays on Bentham and Coleridge. Knowledgeable and incisive introduction by Ryan, a leading scholar of Mill, identifies the key issues and raises questions about Mill’s version of utilitarianism.

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                    Bibliographies

                    Ammaro 1964 represents the first modern bibliography of Mill, but Laine 1982 is by far the most comprehensive bibliography to date, and it will likely be of most interest to advanced scholars conducting archival research. The early editions of The Mill Newsletter are helpful in identifying the revival of interest in Mill in the late 1960s.

                    • Ammaro, Keitaro. Bibliography of the Classical Economists. Vol. 3, John Stuart Mill. Part 4. Tokyo: Science Council of Japan, 1964.

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                      Checklist of works on John Stuart Mill that includes a bibliography of Mill’s works, a list of their translation into foreign languages, and a further list of work on Mill that is divided thematically.

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                      • Laine, Michael. Bibliography of Works on John Stuart Mill. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982.

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                        A scholarly bibliography that revises and extends Hascall and Robson’s list in The Mill Newsletter, and the recent publications list from the newsletter, with new material up to 1978. Includes 1971 citations for books and articles as well as a list of verse, cartoons, portraits, and other representations, and two indexes on Mill and other writers.

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                        • The Mill Newsletter. 1965–1988.

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                          The newsletter was edited by John Robson, Michael Laine, and Bruce Kinzer, and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1965 to 1988, after which it merged with the Bentham Newsletter to form Utilitas. The first five volumes contain an alphabetical bibliography of works about Mill, compiled by Dudley Hascall and John Robson. Subsequent editions from 1970 to 1988 include a short list of recent publications and doctoral dissertations. Available online from the website of the UCL Bentham Project.

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                          Reference Works

                          One of the recurrent concerns in Mill criticism is the effort to determine the relationship between the various aspects of his thought. While some of the major works remained in print, Mill’s writings on poetry, society, ethics, politics, religion, democracy, and reform were often neglected. Mill 1963–1991 transformed the critical landscape and led to a major reinterpretation by providing a complete and authoritative collection of Mill’s works. It is the essential scholarly resource for researchers, graduate students, and the general reader, and accessible from major research libraries and online. Mill 1961 is important for studies of the Autobiography (and life writing more generally) while Mill and Comte 1995 is a useful guide to the key relationship between Mill and Comte.

                          • Mill, John Stuart. The Early Draft of John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography. Edited by Jack Stillinger. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1961.

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                            A complete text of the original draft of the Autobiography, which gives an account of Mill’s life up to his marriage in 1851. Offers insight into Mill’s first attempt to write his life, and successive revisions show the development of his thought. The introduction discusses the importance of this text in relation to the two other manuscripts of the Autobiography.

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                            • Mill, John Stuart. The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill. 33 vols. Edited by John M. Robson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1963–1991.

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                              This definitive and comprehensive collection of Mill’s works is the achievement of the Mill Project, led by John M. Robson. Each volume contains the fully collated texts and previously unpublished or inaccessible texts, as well as valuable introductions. The volumes are available in large research libraries, and at the Online Library of Liberty.

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                              • Mill, John Stuart, and Auguste Comte. The Correspondence of John Stuart Mill and Auguste Comte. Edited by Oscar A. Haac. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1995.

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                                Reproduces the eighty-nine letters exchanged between Mill and Comte in the period 1841–1847, and includes an account of the shifts in their relationship: their opposition to metaphysics and theology, their mutual agreement on the need to organize human knowledge and reform society, their debates about psychology and economics, and their disagreement about the status of women.

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                                Biographies

                                Many critical studies of Mill’s works discuss his life, so there are not as many biographies as might be expected. Bain 1993 is one of the earliest and most important biographies, and it is available in large research libraries. Packe 1954, Capaldi 2004, and Reeves 2007 offer accounts of the life and works, but Reeves 2007 is more balanced and likely to become the definitive biography. Mill, et al. 1951 and Pappe 1960 offer differing accounts of the significance of the relationship between Mill and Harriet Taylor. Hayek reproduces their letters and portrays Taylor as virtually a coauthor of Mill’s most important works, whereas Pappe argues against the “myth” of Taylor’s influence and points to other sources for Mill’s ideas. Mazlish 1975 is an idiosyncratic study that has received much negative criticism for its attempt to psychoanalyze the Mills, and for the unreliability of its reading of the work.

                                • Bain, Alexander. John Stuart Mill: A Criticism with Personal Recollections. Bristol, UK: Thoemmes, 1993.

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                                  An early biography of Mill, originally published in 1882, which sketches Mill’s life and offers an account of his works. Has its source in a series of articles on Mill written for Mind, and is critical about certain aspects of Mill’s philosophy but largely sympathetic.

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                                  • Capaldi, Nicholas. John Stuart Mill: A Biography. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511498053Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    Useful for its coverage of Mill’s contribution to philosophy in its various dimensions. Draws out the significance of Romanticism to Mill’s philosophical thinking, and Mill’s relationship with Harriet Taylor.

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                                    • Mazlish, Bruce. James and John Stuart Mill: Father and Son in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Basic Books, 1975.

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                                      Controversial “psychohistorical” interpretation of the father-son relationship through the Oedipus complex, and also covers Mill’s relationship to Harriet Taylor. The thesis has been largely discredited due to its claims that the two men are “symbolic of nineteenth-century generational change” (p. 12), and that this change is “a prime mechanism of social change” (p. 7).

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                                      • Mill, John Stuart, Harriet Hardy Taylor Mill, and Friedrich A. von Hayek. John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor: Their Correspondence and Subsequent Marriage. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951.

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                                        Selection of letters and notes chronicling the eighteen-year friendship and later marriage of Mill and Harriet Taylor, with accompanying commentary on notable events and people in their life. Suggests the influence of Taylor on Mill was as important to Mill as he claimed, and thus presents the relationship and marriage as decisive to Mill’s thought.

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                                        • Packe, Michael St. John. The Life of John Stuart Mill. London: Secker and Warburg, 1954.

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                                          A comprehensive and readable account of Mill that is more reliable on his life than his philosophy. Gives considerable emphasis to the role of Harriet Taylor in shaping Mill’s intellectual positions in the 1830s, and uses two essays she published at this time for supporting evidence.

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                                          • Pappe, H. O. John Stuart Mill and the Harriet Taylor Myth. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1960.

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                                            Reconsiders the influence of Harriet Taylor on Mill, particularly the “myth” that she was responsible for his greatest intellectual achievements. Pappe rejects the myth, arguing that Mill’s principal ideas about education and morality were derived from Plato, that Taylor’s two essays are a reproduction of Mill’s ideas (rather than vice versa), and that his turn to socialism was the result of a gradual change in his outlook.

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                                            • Reeves, Richard. John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand. London: Atlantic Press, 2007.

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                                              A recent and engaging account of Mill that views the life and works together as “a sustained effort to make liberal democracy better, to infuse it with more truth, energy and freedom” (p. 8). Offers insights into the broader culture of the period and includes valuable discussion of Mill’s journalism and career as an MP.

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                                              Essay Collections

                                              A number of collections were important in stimulating critical interest in Mill from the 1960s onwards by reinterpreting his philosophy and evaluating its contribution to 19th- and 20th-century thought. Schneewind 1968 and Robson and Laine 1976 are authoritative volumes on the philosophical, social, and cultural importance of Mill’s thought, while Laine 1991 largely concentrates on the 19th-century contexts of his work and life. Skorupski 1998 is a recent collection from leading Mill scholars on the main themes of his philosophy. Both Urbinati and Zakaras 2007 and Varouxakis and Kelly 2010 include reflections on the value of Mill’s ideas to understanding political developments in the contemporary world.

                                              • Laine, Michael, ed. A Cultivated Mind: Essays on J.S. Mill Presented to John M. Robson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991.

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                                                Collection of essays that assess Mill’s career in relation to important texts in the Collected Works and explore the circles in which he moved. Includes notable essays on Robson’s work for the Mill Project and Mill’s influence on English culture from 1873 to 1945.

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                                                • Robson, John M., and Michael Laine, eds. James and John Stuart Mill: Papers of the Centenary Conference. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976.

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                                                  Broad-ranging collection of essays that explore the relevance of the work of the two Mills to contemporary social issues, and offer some criticisms of the younger Mill. Conference held at the University of Toronto on 3-5 May 1973.

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                                                  • Schneewind, J. B., ed. Mill: A Collection of Critical Essays. London: Macmillan, 1968.

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                                                    Collection of nineteen influential essays from leading philosophers that cover the major works of Mill, and of which sixteen are reprinted from journals. Provides an invaluable perspective on the key arguments and debates in Mill studies, and includes a bibliography and guide to the historical background.

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                                                    • Skorupski, John, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Mill. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

                                                      DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521419875Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Important collection of fourteen essays that analyze different aspects of Mill’s philosophy and provide a systematic review of his importance. Includes a valuable introductory chapter that places Mill in the context of modern liberal traditions, a guide to further reading, and a substantial bibliography.

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                                                      • Urbinati, Nadia, and Alex Zakaras, eds. J. S. Mill’s Political Thought: A Bicentennial Reassessment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511618734Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        Explores underappreciated aspects of Mill’s political philosophy and their relevance to contemporary political life. Covers liberty and its limits, democracy and the individual, and international politics and ethics, and includes interesting discussion of Mill’s position on military interventions and attitudes toward cosmopolitanism and patriotism.

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                                                        • Varouxakis, Georgios, and Paul Kelly, eds. John Stuart Mill—Thought and Influence: The Saint of Rationalism. London: Routledge, 2010.

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                                                          Assesses the philosophical legacy of Mill’s arguments, and especially his version of liberalism and his account of the relationship between character and ethical and political commitments. Features topical essays by Winch, Riley, Nussbaum, Skorupski, and Peter Singer.

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                                                          Historical Background

                                                          These works provide insight into the intellectual and political currents of thought in 19th-century Britain. Collini, et al. 1984; Burrow 1988; and Collini 1991 are intellectual histories of political thought in the period, and offer valuable guides to the leading debates and issues. Kahan 2003 and Bailkin 2004 offer distinct accounts of liberalism, the former from the perspective of European debates about suffrage, and the latter in terms of debates about property rights. Vernon 1993 presents an interesting argument about the conception of “the people” in relation to political reform. Important studies of key intellectual frameworks that informed Mill’s philosophy can be found in Wright 1986 and Turner 1981.

                                                          • Bailkin, Jordanna. The Culture of Property: The Crisis of Liberalism in Modern Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

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                                                            Examines the ethics and politics of cultural property in the context of “the ‘strange death’ of British liberalism” (p. 1). Focuses on debates among Irish and Scottish nationalists, women, and urban workers about the ownership of cultural objects in the 19th- and early-20th-century, and suggests that conceptions of gender, labor, Celtic, and colonial identity shaped and were shaped by liberalism.

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                                                            • Burrow, J. W. Whigs and Liberals: Continuity and Change in English Political Thought. Oxford: Clarendon, 1988.

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                                                              Account of the history of 19th-century political thought via key concepts rather than figures or debates. Burrow argues that locating the origins of liberalism in the 17th century recasts 17th- and 18th-century principles in 19th-century terms and obscures the parallels between 18th-century Whig and 19th-century liberal thought.

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                                                              • Collini, Stefan. Public Moralists: Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Britain, 1850–1930. Oxford: Clarendon, 1991.

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                                                                Important analysis of the role of the intellectual in advancing moral and cultural attitudes about character, altruism, manliness, and specialization. Argues that public figures as diverse as John Stuart Mill, Matthew Arnold, Walter Bagehot, Herbert Spencer, and George Eliot expressed and informed political values and ideals in the period.

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                                                                • Collini, Stefan, Donald Winch, and J. W. Burrow. That Noble Science of Politics: A Study in Nineteenth-Century Intellectual History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

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                                                                  Discusses various attempts to form a systematic, concrete “science” of politics in 19th-century Britain. Opens with an important position statement against teleological history, and includes essays on Malthus, Ricardo, Mill, and Bagehot, as well as less well-known figures such as Dugald Stewart, E. A. Freeman, and J. R. Seeley.

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                                                                  • Kahan, Alan S. Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century Europe: The Political Culture of Limited Suffrage. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1057/9781403937643Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    A general overview of the success of European liberalism in the 19th century and the reasons for its decline from the 1870s to the First World War. Focuses on the “discourse of capacity” (p. 5) in relation to suffrage debates in England, France, Germany, and Prussia and the broader context of class.

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                                                                    • Turner, Frank M. The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981.

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                                                                      Informative and thoroughly researched study of “what Victorian writers said about Greek civilization and how it both reflected and informed the larger intellectual life of the day.” Discusses the changing perceptions of Greek Antiquity in the context of “humanistic Hellenism” (p. 17), mythology and religion, the Athenian constitution, Homer and Socrates, Aristotelian ethics, and the Platonic revival.

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                                                                      • Vernon, James. Politics and the People: A Study in English Political Culture, c. 1815–1867. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

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                                                                        A cultural history of politics between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the passing of the second Reform Act in 1867. Assesses the extent to which politics defines and imagines “the people,” and argues against critical orthodoxy that political culture became less democratic and the radical potential of England’s libertarian tradition declined.

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                                                                        • Wright, T. R. The Religion of Humanity: The Impact of Comtean Positivism on Victorian Britain. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

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                                                                          Wide-ranging study that outlines the principles of Comte’s alternative “religion” and traces its influence on Mill and George Henry Lewes, and subsequent development by Richard Congreve and Frederic Harrison. Also explores the responses of critics such as Ruskin, Arnold, and Pater, and the emergence of a “literary positivism” in the fiction of Eliot, Hardy, and Gissing.

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                                                                          Poetry and the Feelings

                                                                          There are few extended studies of Mill’s writings on poetry and their relevance to his moral and social philosophy. Woods 1961 is the exception, but the analysis has been superseded by more recent criticism and should thus be treated as a basic introduction to the topic. Armstrong 1993 offers a broad narrative of Victorian debates about poetry, while Davis 1985 and Poston 1986 present a similar context but offer more focused analysis of the essays on poetry and their political significance. Shaw 1981 is a challenging but important essay on the value of intuition. By contrast, Robson 1968, Green 1991, and Gustafson 2009 argue for the importance of poetry to Mill as an expression of moral and social feelings.

                                                                          • Armstrong, Isobel. Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics. London and New York: Routledge, 1993.

                                                                            DOI: 10.4324/9780203193280Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            Impressive for the range of material and application of theoretical frameworks in arguing for the importance of Victorian poetry as a mode of historical consciousness. Substantial first section on the Conservative and Benthamite aesthetics of the 1830s explores the difference between an aestheticized politics and a politicized aesthetics and includes sustained analysis of Mill’s theories of poetry.

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                                                                            • Davis, Elynor G. “Mill, Socialism and the English Romantics: An Interpretation.” Economica 52.207 (1985): 345–358.

                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/2553857Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Traces the formative influence of Romantic philosophy on Mill’s view of the relationship between the individual and society. Compares the impact of Wordsworth and Comte on Mill, and concludes that his expansion of the Romantic emphasis on individual happiness as the chief purpose of life for all led him to reject most tenets of utopian socialism.

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                                                                              • Green, Michele. “Sympathy and the Social Value of Poetry: J. S. Mill’s Literary Essays.” University of Toronto Quarterly 60.4 (1991): 452–468.

                                                                                DOI: 10.3138/utq.60.4.452Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Argues that Mill’s poetic theory needs to be understood in the context of a discourse of sympathy that linked poetry to moral and social philosophy, and shows that this discourse was at odds with Benthamite utilitarianism yet instrumental to Mill’s view of the moral and social education of the individual.

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                                                                                • Gustafson, Andrew. “Mill’s Poet-Philosopher, and the Instrumental-Social Importance of Poetry for Moral Sentiments.” British Journal for the History of Philosophy 17.4 (2009): 821–847.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/09608780902986672Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Discusses the importance of the essays on poetry to Mill’s utilitarianism, and argues that he viewed poetry as an instrument of “socially beneficial sentiment” (p. 822).

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                                                                                  • Poston, Lawrence. “Poetry as Pure Act: A Coleridgean Ideal in Early Victorian England.” Modern Philology 84.2 (1986): 162–184.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1086/391536Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Identifies a line of thought from Coleridge to Tennyson via the Cambridge Apostles and W. J. Fox and Mill, and suggests Coleridge’s theory of the unity of thought and feeling informed both the lyric and radical traditions.

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                                                                                    • Robson, John M. “J. S. Mill’s Theory of Poetry.” In Mill: A Collection of Critical Essays. Edited by J. B. Schneewind, 251–279. London: Macmillan, 1968.

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                                                                                      Makes a case for the place of Mill’s poetic theory in the development of his ethical, political, and economic theories. Offers detailed analysis of his conception of the imagination, the higher pleasures of sympathy, and the cultivation of beautiful character.

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                                                                                      • Shaw, W. David. “Mill on Poetic Truth: Are Intuitive Inferences Valid?” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 23.1 (1981): 27–51.

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                                                                                        Analysis of Mill’s argument that to judge poetry according to the same criteria as a scientific treatise is a “descriptive fallacy” (p. 28). Traces the development of Mill’s argument from the associationist view that the mental processes of the poet are like those of the scientist to the dualistic view that the language of science is unlike the language of poetry, and finally to the doctrines of intuitive inferences and of ends.

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                                                                                        • Woods, Thomas. Poetry and Philosophy: A Study in the Thought of John Stuart Mill. London: Hutchinson, 1961.

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                                                                                          Early study of Mill’s essays on poetry, emphasizing the importance of Wordsworth and discussing the relation between Mill’s theory of poetry and his social and political philosophy.

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                                                                                          Method

                                                                                          The literature on Mill’s System of Logic (1843) is slight, and his views about arithmetic and mathematics have not been favorably received. Studies that present a more favorable assessment of Logic tend to be highly technical, as represented here by Kitcher 1998 and, to a lesser extent, Scarre 1998. A more accessible study of Mill’s method is Snyder 2006, which approaches the question of his method via the scientific context of the debate over induction. Poovey 1998 considers the same debate from a slightly different perspective in a discussion of the leading practitioners of statistics in natural philosophy and, in particular, John Herschel’s and Mill’s ideas about of scientific method and its limits. Mueller 1956 is a useful study of the importance of French theorists to Mill’s understanding of society. Robson 1998 offers an incisive account of the key concepts in Mill’s philosophy, while Carlisle 1991 addresses the importance of character, and Vogler 2001 that of the imagination.

                                                                                          • Carlisle, Janice. John Stuart Mill and the Writing of Character. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1991.

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                                                                                            Discusses Mill’s first principles before considering his attempt to establish a science of character (or ethology). Suggests that Mill used the practice of writing “to surmount the limitations and dissatisfactions of his experience” and “to fashion anew the character that his experience had written for him” (p. 221).

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                                                                                            • Kitcher, Philip. “Mill, Mathematics, and the Naturalist Tradition.” In The Cambridge Companion to Mill. Edited by John Skorupski, 57–111. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                              Argues that Mill’s contribution to the philosophy of mathematics is more important than critics have acknowledged in “laying out the general arguments against transcendentalist approaches to mathematics, and thus making the case for some kind of naturalism” (p. 100). Discusses some difficult questions about mathematical knowledge and the process of logical induction.

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                                                                                              • Mueller, Iris Wessel. John Stuart Mill and French Thought. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1956.

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                                                                                                Investigates the influence of French thinkers and events on Mill, including the upheavals of 1830 and 1848 and also the Paris Commune, and the significance of the Saint-Simonians, Comte, and Tocqueville. Discusses the ideas that Mill assimilated into his Logic and Political Economy from French social theory and the decisive differences in his mode of scientific explanation and view of utopianism.

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                                                                                                • Poovey, Mary. A History of the Modern Fact: Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences of Wealth and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226675183.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Detailed analysis of the emergence of the “fact” as a modern unit of knowledge in the period from the 17th to the early 19th centuries. Chapter 7 examines the problem of induction in the 1830s, and especially the contributions of Herschel and Mill to debates about method in science and social science.

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                                                                                                  • Robson, John M. “Civilization and Culture as Moral Concepts.” In The Cambridge Companion to Mill. Edited by John Skorupski, 338–371. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                    Offers a precisely analytical account of Mill’s theory of human nature through his positions on culture and civilization. Explains Mill’s distinction between the individual as type and a group, class, or nation, and explores the connection of civilization to improvement in relation to Mill’s views of Ireland and India.

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                                                                                                    • Scarre, Geoffrey. “Mill on Induction and Scientific Method.” In The Cambridge Companion to Mill. Edited by John Skorupski, 112–138. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                      Examines Mill’s objections to Whewell’s theory of science and argues that they “disagreed fundamentally over whether a fully determinate external world exists prior to the application of concepts” (p. 135).

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                                                                                                      • Snyder, Laura J. Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                        Considers the wide-ranging debate between Mill and Whewell over the leading issues in philosophy of science, moral philosophy, economics, and politics, and focuses in particular on their dispute about the methods of science and the question of how society should be reformed.

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                                                                                                        • Vogler, Candace A. John Stuart Mill’s Deliberative Landscape: An Essay in Moral Psychology. New York: Garland, 2001.

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                                                                                                          Explores the tensions between Mill’s views of moral psychology and practical reason. Includes chapters on his alignment of “different types of imaginative literary representation” with “different kinds of minds” (p. 62) and the ways in which his essays on poetry move beyond associationist psychology.

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                                                                                                          Political Economy

                                                                                                          Mill is generally considered to be a disseminator of classical political economy rather than an innovator in the field, but Principles of Political Economy (1848) was nonetheless influential upon later social and political theories. Winch 2009 is an instructive account of the key ideas and controversies, and it is a good place to start for the general reader. Hollander 1985 is a detailed exposition of Mill’s theory of political economy and its relevance for social reform. Oakley 1994 sets Mill’s economic principles in the context of late-18th- and early-19th-century models of production and progress, whereas Riley 1998 discusses the Ricardian aspects of Mill’s “Art of Living,” and Lipkes 1999 focuses on Mill’s ideas and their influence in the 1860s and 1870s. Hirschmann 2008 is an important essay that addresses criticism of the place of gender in Mill’s writing and suggests his view of domestic economy is of some relevance to current debates. The influence of interdisciplinary approaches to literary studies can be seen in Gallagher 2006 and Blake 2009, which place Mill’s political economy in the context of broader discussions of aesthetic and cultural values.

                                                                                                          • Blake, Kathleen. Pleasures of Benthamism: Victorian Literature, Utility, Political Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563265.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            A major reinterpretation of Bentham in terms of the historical context, style, and ideas that inform his concept of utility and its relevance to Mill’s liberalism and liberal imperialism, as well as Victorian literature and culture. Contains substantive chapters on Mill and the doctrine of laissez-faire, and on the economic arguments that Mill advanced for empire.

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                                                                                                            • Gallagher, Catherine. The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                              Explores the conflicts between political economists and literary critics in the early 19th century, and proposes both groups were engaged in an endeavor to locate the body and its feelings at the center of social concerns. Theorizes this endeavor in terms of “bioeconomics,” or issues of life and death, and “somaeconomics,” or issues of pleasure and pain. Chapter 2 compares these notions, and includes an account of Mill’s Political Economy.

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                                                                                                              • Hirschmann, Nancy J. “Mill, Political Economy, and Women’s Work.” American Political Science Review 102.2 (2008): 199–213.

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                                                                                                                Presents Mill as an important contributor to political theories of economics about the sexual division of labor and the value of women’s work in the home. Suggests that Mill’s position on women’s work was economic as well as moral, but that the inconsistency is instructive for current debates in political economy about the difficulties of “‘counting’ women’s housework” (p. 201).

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                                                                                                                • Hollander, Samuel M. The Economics of John Stuart Mill. 2 vols. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                                  Comprehensive study of Mill as an economist and social thinker, which starts with an examination of “Theory and Method” in Volume 1 and continues onto sustained analysis of “Political Economy” in Volume 2.

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                                                                                                                  • Lipkes, Jeff. Politics, Religion and Classical Political Economy in Britain: John Stuart Mill and His Followers. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1999.

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                                                                                                                    A study of Mill’s economic theory and its influence. The first part discusses Mill’s beliefs about political economy and the religion of humanity in the years 1860–1873, and the second part explores the “Mill Circle” and the ways in which figures such as John Elliot Cairnes, Henry Fawcett, and William Thomas Thornton modified and also refuted some of Mill’s beliefs.

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                                                                                                                    • Oakley, Allen. Classic Economic Man: Human Agency and Methodology in the Political Economy of Adam Smith and J. S. Mill. Aldershot, UK: Edward Elgar, 1994.

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                                                                                                                      Comparative study of the place of the human agent in economy and society. The second part presents an exegesis of Mill’s methodology, and suggests that he turned from Ricardo to Smith in formulating the case for a free-market system capable of improving material conditions.

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                                                                                                                      • Riley, Jonathan. “Mill’s Political Economy: Ricardian Science and Liberal Utilitarian Art.” In The Cambridge Companion to Mill. Edited by John Skorupski, 293–337. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                        Discusses the influence of Ricardo’s economic doctrines on Mill and considers the difference between Mill’s science of political economy and his “liberal utilitarian ‘Art of Life’” (p. 295).

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                                                                                                                        • Winch, Donald. Wealth and Life: Essays on the Intellectual History of Political Economy in Britain, 1848–1914. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                          A valuable study of the debate about political economy, which is framed in terms of Arnold Toynbee’s description of “the argument between economists and human beings” (p. 1). The first two parts explore Political Economy in the context of the “condition-of-England” question and the responses it produced from Ruskin, Bagehot, and Jevons.

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                                                                                                                          America and Democracy

                                                                                                                          Interpretations of Mill’s writings on America tend to be folded into discussions of the ideals of democracy in British and American political thought. Morlan 1936 and Schapiro 1943 are early contributions to the critical literature: Morlan traces the impact of Mill in America, and Schapiro presents Mill as a democratic liberal. Pappe 1964 offers insights into the significance of the relationship between Mill and Tocqueville, and Compton 2008 explores Mill’s view of America as a philosophical model of democracy. Roper 1989 and Smith 1990 are overviews of the debates about democratization in America and Britain, and both are helpful starting points for undergraduate students, while Prochaska 2012 surveys British opinion on America in the 19th century, with a special focus on the US Constitution. Ten 1998 develops Schapiro’s argument about Mill’s concern for the working classes in terms of the socialist movement. See also Government and Reform.

                                                                                                                          • Compton, John W. “The Emancipation of the American Mind: J. S. Mill on the Civil War.” The Review of Politics 70.2 (2008): 221–244.

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                                                                                                                            Explores the contrast between the pessimism that Mill expresses in his early essays on America and the optimism in his response to the Civil War over the prospects for the regeneration of the American people through the abolition of slavery. Argues that America is important to Mill as a nation founded on “abstract principles” and an example of commercial and democratic practices.

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                                                                                                                            • Morlan, George. America’s Heritage from John Stuart Mill. New York: Columbia University Press, 1936.

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                                                                                                                              Examines and evaluates Mill’s liberalism in terms of the conditions of modern industrial society, and then tests the worth of mid-20th-century American liberal doctrines of education and individualism against the older social ideas.

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                                                                                                                              • Pappe, H. O. “Mill and Tocqueville.” Journal of the History of Ideas 25.2 (1964): 217–234.

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                                                                                                                                A focused investigation of the influence of Tocqueville and Mill upon each other that assesses their political affinities and their personal relationship, and contends that Mill was as much influenced by sociological narratives of history as he was by Tocqueville’s political philosophy.

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                                                                                                                                • Prochaska, Frank. Eminent Victorians on American Democracy: The View from Albion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199640614.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Discusses the views of Mill, Walter Bagehot, Sir Henry Maine, and James Bryce on American government and society, including the US Constitution and its practical application, the Supreme Court, and the party system. Substantial chapter on Mill and “the tyranny of conformity” (p. 23).

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                                                                                                                                  • Roper, Jon. Democracy and Its Critics: Anglo-American Democratic Thought in the Nineteenth Century. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                    Useful survey of the distinct traditions of “the democratic debate” in Britain and America and their common themes.

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                                                                                                                                    • Schapiro, J. Salwyn. “John Stuart Mill, Pioneer of Democratic Liberalism in England.” Journal of the History of Ideas 4.2 (1943): 127–160.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/2707321Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Presents Mill as the embodiment of the various phases of the liberal movement, including utilitarianism, classical economy, and philosophical radicalism, as well as universal suffrage, proportional representation, and social reform. Suggests Mill’s importance rests on his inclusion of the working classes in liberal plans for human freedom.

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                                                                                                                                      • Smith, Dennis. Capitalist Democracy on Trial: The Transatlantic Debate from Tocqueville to the Present. London and New York: Routledge, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                        Chapter 2 compares Tocqueville’s Democracy in America to Mill’s On Liberty and explores the differences in their views of the relationship between democracy and industrial capitalism.

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                                                                                                                                        • Ten, C. L. “Democracy, Socialism and the Working Classes.” In The Cambridge Companion to Mill. Edited by John Skorupski, 372–395. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                          Discusses Mill’s view of the working classes and their capacity for improvement and need for protection in relation to the Second Reform Act of 1867. Focuses especially on the emergence of workers’ associations and trade unions as well as socialist schemes to mitigate the ills of capitalism.

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                                                                                                                                          On Liberty

                                                                                                                                          On Liberty has made Mill’s name synonymous with liberalism, but it is important to recognize that there were several different strands of liberal political thought in the 19th century, as evident in the sources cited under Historical Background. Part of the popularity of the text is due to the lucidity of its prose, and part to the accessibility of its themes to general readers. The range of approaches in the secondary literature includes close textual analysis, arguments for and against the validity of its claims for self-regarding actions and actions for others, accounts of the difference or consistency between liberty and utility, and more general accounts of Mill’s liberalism and social theory in 19th-century Britain (and also in the contemporary world). See also Utilitarianism; Empire, Race, and Nation; and the The Subjection of Women and Feminism.

                                                                                                                                          Critical Reception

                                                                                                                                          One of earliest and most sustained assaults on Mill’s liberal thought is Stephen 1967 (first published 1873–1874), which set the tone for criticisms like that in Cowling 1963. Himmelfarb 1990 represents another key strand of criticism, with the argument that Mill espoused two incompatible liberalisms. Hamburger 1999 explores a related contradiction in Mill’s view of liberty. New defenses of Mill’s principle of liberty, and its consistency with his principle of utility, emerged in the 1960s, of which Gray 1983 and Ryan 1998 are excellent examples. Nicolson 1998 will be helpful to readers coming to these debates for the first time, as it reviews Mill’s reputation in his lifetime and after his death. Rawls 2005 is a more general account of liberalism that extends the insights of Mill’s famous theory of justice (see also Rights and Justice).

                                                                                                                                          • Cowling, Maurice. Mill and Liberalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1963.

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                                                                                                                                            Controversial assault on Mill as an authoritarian figure. Cowling’s thesis is that Mill’s replacement of Christianity with a religion of humanity promoted an intellectual elite who used liberty as an instrument for regulating social norms. He also argues against Mill’s program of social reform on the grounds that it is derived from philosophical reasoning, and thus not an adequate method for political science.

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                                                                                                                                            • Gray, John. Mill on Liberty: A Defense. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.4324/9780203432471Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Reviews the new interpretations of Mill’s writings on liberty and utility that emerged from the 1960s onwards. Presents an argument for the coherence of Mill’s “utilitarian defense of liberal principles about the right to liberty” (p. 14), and so reappraises Mill’s doctrine of liberty.

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                                                                                                                                              • Hamburger, Joseph. John Stuart Mill on Liberty and Control. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                Critique of contemporary interpretations of Mill that challenges the view of him as an advocate for complete liberty of speech and conduct. Hamburger interprets On Liberty as part of Mill’s project of moral reform, arguing that “in seeking to shape character, values, and motives, Mill reveals his wish to limit the choices made by citizens” (p. 226).

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                                                                                                                                                • Himmelfarb, Gertrude. On Liberty and Liberalism: The Case of John Stuart Mill. San Francisco: ICS Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                  Revisionist thesis of the “two Mills” that argues the liberalism of On Liberty and the essays on women are incompatible with the liberalism espoused in the more critical writings on economy and utilitarianism. Himmelfarb claims that the “crisis” in modern politics has its origins in the conflict between these two versions of liberalism. (Originally published in 1974.)

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                                                                                                                                                  • Nicolson, Peter. “The Reception and Early Reputation of Mill’s Political Thought.” In The Cambridge Companion to Mill. Edited by John Skorupski, 464–496. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                    Surveys the responses to Mill’s political ideas in On Liberty and Subjection of Women when they were published and in the later 19th century, and includes a useful discussion of the 1873 reconsideration by Stephens.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Rawls, John. Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                      An important examination of the political consequences of liberalism for democratic society. Rawls asks how a just society of free and equal citizens can live in harmony when it is divided by reasonable but irreconcilable doctrines. Proposes that the best prospect for social unity in a democracy lies in a political conception of justice, enabling consensus via toleration and social cooperation.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Ryan, Alan. “Mill in a Liberal Landscape.” In The Cambridge Companion to Mill. Edited by John Skorupski, 497–540. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                        Incisive account of the controversies about what kind of liberalism is defended in On Liberty and how it is defended in order to show the difficulties that Mill’s liberalism presents to the late-20th-century reader, and to point out the differences between Mill’s argument and many of the late-20th-century arguments for liberalism.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Stephen, James Fitzjames. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Edited by R. J. White. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1967.

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                                                                                                                                                          Famous attack on the “view of human nature and human affairs” (p. 4) expressed in On Liberty, Utilitarianism, and Subjection of Women. Stephen argues that Mill presents “too favorable an estimate of human nature” (p. 43), and that the line he draws between self-regarding action and action for others in society is in the wrong place.

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                                                                                                                                                          The “Two Liberties”

                                                                                                                                                          Berlin 1958 is a groundbreaking thesis of the political senses of liberty, and Berlin 1969 enlarges the scope of the earlier essay in the context of the late Stalinist regime of the Soviet Union. Wolheim 1979 is a valuable appraisal of both Berlin and Mill on liberty.

                                                                                                                                                          • Berlin, Isaiah. Two Concepts of Liberty: An Inaugural Lecture Delivered Before the University of Oxford, on 31 October 1958. Oxford: Clarendon, 1958.

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                                                                                                                                                            Proposes negative and positive senses of liberty relating to the questions of individual freedom without interference and of the source of interference. Argues that an individual’s or a people’s liberty is not unlimited because it must be balanced with other values, such as equality, justice, happiness, and security.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Berlin, Isaiah. Four Essays on Liberty. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                                              Important analysis of individual liberty that extends Berlin 1958 to address the ideological struggles of the mid-20th century, the issues of judgment and responsibility, the two liberties, and the importance of Mill in upholding the ideal of freedom as the “ends of life.”

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                                                                                                                                                              • Wolheim, Richard. “John Stuart Mill and Isaiah Berlin: The Ends of Life and the Preliminaries of Morality.” In The Idea of Freedom: Essays in Honour of Isaiah Berlin. Edited by Alan Ryan, 253–270. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                An important response to Berlin that reflects on the “two liberties” argument through comparison with Mill’s conception of freedom.

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                                                                                                                                                                Liberalism and Social Theory

                                                                                                                                                                Riley 1998 is a succinct account of On Liberty and related social questions, and it is useful for readers seeking an overview of the topic. Habermas 1989 is an important and much-referenced historical and political account of the public and private spheres. Garforth 1980 is an informative study of Mill’s views on education, whereas Morales 1996 and Nussbaum 1999 explore the significance of his views on equality for human relations and identity.

                                                                                                                                                                • Garforth, F. W. Educative Democracy: John Stuart Mill on Education in Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Painstaking investigation of Mill’s thinking on education and its connection with democracy as an instrument of improvement. Covers a wide range of topics, including the teaching of religion and the aims of universities, with fulsome textual references, and explores Mill’s view that democracy promotes education, so the government should require education without intervening in it.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Habermas, Jürgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Translated by Thomas Burger. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Influential study of the emergence of a new kind of public in the 17th century in Britain, France, and Germany, and its subsequent transformation as a result of industrial capitalism, the mass media, and the growth of the modern state. Of particular note is the section on the contrasting ideas about “public opinion” in Hegel and Marx, and Tocqueville and Mill.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Morales, Maria H. Perfect Equality: John Stuart Mill on Well-Constituted Communities. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Discusses Mill’s egalitarian views on the moral necessity of changing human relations and the ways in which people relate to one another, and suggests the importance of “perfect equality” as the key value in his practical philosophy.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Nussbaum, Martha C. Sex and Social Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Uses Mill’s liberalism to articulate a feminism that is concerned with the social shaping of preference and desire and the value of sympathetic understanding. Argues that the liberal tradition of politics offers a way of addressing rights violations on the grounds of sex and sexuality.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Riley, Jonathan. Mill on Liberty. Routledge Philosophy Guidebooks. London: Routledge, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                          A guidebook that includes close analysis of the argument of On Liberty, and a survey of the social and philosophical issues it raises.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Literary Context and Influence

                                                                                                                                                                          The relevance of On Liberty to the narrative forms and strategies of Victorian literature, especially the novel, has become an important area of study. Williams 1983 is a pioneering book that appraises Mill’s attempt to reconcile idealist and materialist thought. Goodlad 2003 offers a highly theoretical approach to Victorian debates about governance and the tensions between idealism and materialism. Anderson 2001 and Malachuk 2005 are also highly theoretical, exploring the significance of Mill’s aspiration to objectivity, and Plotz 2010 reaches a similar conclusion to Anderson 2001, but from a different direction. Bailkin, et al. 2005 offers interestingly diverse assessments of the importance of liberalism to critical thinking about the Victorian period. Hadley 2010 will likely become a key work for literary interpretation due to its examination of the practices of citizenship as forms of self-understanding. See also New Economic and Ethical Criticism.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Anderson, Amanda. The Powers of Distance: Cosmopolitanism and the Cultivation of Detachment. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                            A noteworthy book for its interpretation of the aspiration to objectivity in the Victorian novel. Anderson contends that the stances of detachment raise challenging moral questions concerning how a distanced view might be cultivated, and whether it promotes progress for individuals, communities, or nations. Mill’s “elaboration of an ideal of impartiality” (p. 16) is the central motif and briefly analyzed in the introduction.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Bailkin, Jordanna, Elaine Hadley, and Rohan McWilliam. “Forum on Liberalism.” Victorian Studies 48.1 (2005): 83–111.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Bailkin proposes that material culture studies offers a new approach to the history of liberalism via issues related to place, property, and rights. Hadley offers a reading of Ian McEwan’s Saturday by way of expressing disquiet about Victorian liberalism. McWilliam surveys the literature on popular culture and political liberalism.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Goodlad, Lauren M. E. Victorian Literature and the Victorian State: Character and Governance in a Liberal Society. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Wide-ranging study of liberal society that uses Foucault’s later essays on liberalism and governmentality to interpret debates about reform in relation to Victorian literature and culture. Describes the antithesis between idealism and materialism and shows how this antithesis is blurred in the writings of Mill, Martineau, Trollope, and Dickens.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Hadley, Elaine. Living Liberalism: Practical Citizenship in Mid-Victorian Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226311906.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Important study of political liberalism as a practical theory of self-understanding that assesses the ways in which terms like individualism, opinion, sincerity, and discussion provide an answer to the question, “How does one live liberalism?” (p. 3). Proposes new terms for understanding political liberalism in the form of “liberal cognition and abstract embodiment” (p. 2), and includes discussion of Dickens, Trollope, and Eliot, as well as the ballot box and the Irish question.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Malachuk, Daniel S. Perfection, the State, and Victorian Liberalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1057/9781403982247Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    Challenging account of Victorian liberalism that explores the skepticism about ideas of perfection and the state in contemporary culture, and analyzes the policies recommended by Victorian liberals to achieve perfection. Two chapters focus on Matthew Arnold and Mill as representative of the Victorian aspiration toward moral objectivity and objectivity in general.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Plotz, John. “Antisocial Fictions: Mill and the Novel.” Novel 43.1 (2010): 38–46.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1215/00295132-2009-060Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Reconsideration of On Liberty in terms of Mill’s theory of poetry and the distinction between public and private realms of the heard and the overheard. Argues that by the 1850s, Mill is “seeking a new form for the sharing of thoughts—and equally important, of feelings” (p. 39), and suggests the influence of On Liberty on the realist novel of the late 19th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Williams, Raymond. Culture and Society, 1780–1950. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Groundbreaking study of the struggle for political democracy and the progress of industrialization, and the connections between the artist and society. Important chapter on Mill offers a succinct examination of the essays on Bentham and Coleridge, and considers “Mill’s attempt to absorb, and by discrimination and discarding to unify, the truths alike of the utilitarian and the idealist positions” (p. 49). (Originally published in 1958.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Utilitarianism

                                                                                                                                                                                        The consistency between Mill’s ethics and his moral philosophy, or the principles of liberty and utility, has been the subject of much debate, with some critics offering utilitarian justifications for liberty, some rejecting this position and presenting the distinctions between the principles, and still others arguing that the principles are reconcilable in the context of Mill’s political philosophy. There is also a substantial secondary literature regarding the similarities and differences between Bentham’s and Mill’s utilitarianism. An important, recent development in the literature on 19th-century utilitarianism is a body of work that addresses the conceptions of rights and justice, duty and obligation. See also On Liberty.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Critical Reception

                                                                                                                                                                                        Halévy 1960 is a “classic” essay on utilitarianism and a good place to start for readers interested in its historical development in the period. Crisp 1997 is a detailed analysis of Mill’s text that is written in a lucid style, while Miller and Williams 1982 is valuable assessment of the main issues. Hamburger 1965 uses unpublished as well as published materials to trace an important and often neglected episode in the history of utilitarianism. A number of important investigations are highly analytical, especially in relation to the classification of Mill’s moral philosophy as “rule-utilitarianism” or “act-utilitarianism” that emerged from Urmson 1968 and is disputed by Mandelbaum 1968b. Smart and Williams 1987 is a classic volume that argues both sides of the debate about act-utilitarianism and its inadequacy. Mandelbaum 1968a urges attention to the psychological doctrines that commentators usually ignore.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Crisp, Roger. Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Mill on Utilitarianism. London: Routledge, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Clear survey of Mill’s ethics that covers themes of welfare and pleasure, experience, integrity, and justice as they are expressed in Utilitarianism. Discusses On Liberty and The Subjection of Women in the last two chapters, and includes useful suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Halévy, Elie. The Growth of Philosophical Radicalism. Translated by Mary Morris. Boston: Beacon, 1960.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Influential interpretation of the rise of Benthamite utilitarianism and the contradiction between economic philosophies of individual motives and moral philosophies of human and social values. Notable for its identification of an authoritarian strand of liberalism, especially with respect to empire. (A reissue of the original French publication of 1901–1904.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Hamburger, Joseph. Intellectuals in Politics: John Stuart Mill and the Philosophic Radicals. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Account of the complex relationship between Mill and the philosophical radicals in the period from 1829 to 1839. Hamburger suggests that the radicals were more influenced by James Mill than Bentham, and that John Stuart Mill separated himself from political radicalism between 1829 and 1833, but had reaffirmed his belief in the radical cause by 1835.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Mandelbaum, Maurice. “On Interpreting Mill’s Utilitarianism.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 6.1 (1968a): 35–46.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Important appraisal of Mill’s writings on morals, including the essay on Bentham and On Liberty, in relation to the account of virtue and utility in Utilitarianism. Examines the idea of virtue as an end in itself, and shows that its “moral legitimacy” (p. 44) is contingent upon its relation to the principle of utility, and that therefore “Mill’s ultimate conclusions in the theory of morals rest upon psychological principles” (p. 45).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Mandelbaum, Maurice. “Two Moot Issues in Mill’s Utilitarianism.” In Mill: A Collection of Critical Essays. Edited by J. B. Schneewind, 206–233. London: Macmillan, 1968b.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Examines the issues of whether Mill should be considered as an advocate of “rule-utilitarianism” or “act-utilitarianism,” and of whether Mill’s proof of the hedonistic principle is faulty. Argues that it is necessary to interpret Utilitarianism in relation to the other ethical writings in order to grasp the coherence of Mill’s theory and defend it from undue criticism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Miller, Harlan B., and William H. Williams, eds. The Limits of Utilitarianism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Examines the traditional questions raised by utilitarianism and their relevance to 20th-century issues of conduct and goodness, rights and justice. Section I addresses the principle of utility with specific reference to Mill.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Smart, J. J. C., and Bernard Williams. Utilitarianism, for and Against. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Smart argues utilitarianism is premised on a theory of action in which the rightness and wrongness of actions is determined by their consequences. Williams offers a trenchant critique of utilitarianism on the basis that it fails to offer an adequate theory of action or engage seriously with the problems of moral and political philosophy. (Originally published in 1973 and with multiple reprints).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Urmson, J. O. “The Interpretation of the Moral Philosophy of J. S. Mill.” In Mill: A Collection of Critical Essays. Edited by J. B. Schneewind, 179–189. London: Macmillan, 1968.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        A pioneering article, first published in 1953, that identifies two mistaken interpretations of Mill’s ethical theory and presents a revised interpretation that explains the rightness and wrongness of actions in terms of moral rules. This interpretation has come to be known as “rule-utilitarianism.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Utilitarianism and Liberalism

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sen and Williams 1982 is the best place to start for an understanding of these issues, and all but two of the fourteen essays were specially commissioned for the volume. Honderich 1974 outlines the controversy and argues that On Liberty contributes to the political philosophy of utilitarianism. By contrast, Ten 1980 rejects the utilitarian defense of liberty on empirical grounds, while Donner 1991 and Fitzpatrick 2006 present arguments for the connections between utility and liberty that focus on the notion of “the good” and questions of value and rights. Riley 1988 is a rather abstract explanation of “liberal utilitarianism,” though the substantial section on Mill is worth reading. Eggleston, et al. 2011 is a recent contribution to an important but rarely analyzed aspect of Mill’s practical reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Donner, Wendy. The Liberal Self: John Stuart Mill’s Moral and Political Philosophy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          A defense of Mill’s conception of the good that connects the work on ethics with the political philosophy. Explores the complexity of Mill’s view by tracing the development of his moral theory from Benthamite doctrines related to hedonism to a more sophisticated hedonism in which “both the quantity and the quality of pleasurable experiences contribute to their value” (p. 4).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Eggleston, Ben, Dale E. Miller, and D. Weinstein, eds. John Stuart Mill and the Art of Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Eleven leading philosophers examine Mill’s often neglected account of practical reason as the “Art of Life” and his division of it into three departments: “morality, prudence or policy, and aesthetics.” Includes discussion of the principle of utility as the first principle of the “Art of Life.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Fitzpatrick, John R. John Stuart Mill’s Political Philosophy: Balancing Freedom and the Collective Good. London: Continuum, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Presents a systematic review of the principles of utilitarianism and liberalism as outlined by Mill, and the most common objections that have been made to them. Argues that Mill’s political philosophy seeks to reconcile individual liberty with fundamental human rights, and therefore is profoundly relevant to the post-9/11 world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Honderich, Ted. “The Worth of J. S. Mill On Liberty.” Political Studies 22.4 (1974): 463–470.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.1974.tb00038.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                An analytical investigation of the principles of On Liberty that demonstrates how it contains an argument for the “bare Utilitarian principle of state intervention” (p. 463), and why it can therefore be regarded as “an exemplary argument against kinds of repression” (p. 463) that contributes to the political philosophy of utilitarianism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Riley, Jonathan. Liberal Utilitarianism: Social Choice Theory and J.S. Mill’s Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Integrates social choice theory with liberal democratic theory by reinterpreting Mill’s moral and political philosophy. Advances a complex version of utilitarianism based on the argument that Mill’s utility is “the sole norm or value of the liberal ‘way of life’” (p. 2). Part II explains Mill’s utilitarianism and features diagrams of the classification of utilities and the departments of the “Art of Life.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Sen, Amartya, and Bernard Williams, eds. Utilitarianism and Beyond. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An excellent collection for the range of views for and against utilitarianism from some of the most influential thinkers in the field. The essays examine utilitarianism as a theory of personal morality and a theory of public choice, and include notable but challenging contributions by John Rawls, Charles Taylor, and Stuart Hampshire, plus a substantial and important introduction by the editors.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Ten, C. L. Mill on Liberty. Oxford: Clarendon, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An in-depth examination of the question of “whether Mill’s defense of liberty is consistently utilitarian” (p. 5). Ten considers issues relating to self-regarding conduct, harm to others, and shared values, and argues that Mill’s case for liberty is not reconcilable with utilitarianism but “is both internally consistent and also consistent with nearly all of Mill’s other writings” (p. 9).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rights and Justice

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rawls 2005 is the major work in this field, though it is a challenging and highly analytic examination of justice as a political conception. The other works in this section focus specifically on Mill’s ideas of justice, liberty, and utility, but they show the influence of Rawls’s theory. Berger 1984 and Strasser 1991 are comprehensive studies of Mill’s moral and political thought, and Lyons 1997 is a useful volume that selects some of the leading and previously published articles on Utilitarianism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Berger, Fred R. Happiness, Justice, and Freedom: The Moral and Political Philosophy of John Stuart Mill. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A comprehensive examination of Mill’s theory of justice. Berger argues for the interconnection of the three central concepts of happiness, justice, and freedom in Mill’s theories as “the basis for a more defensible form of utilitarianism, and of political liberalism, than has often been previously supposed” (p. 1).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lyons, David, ed. Mill’s Utilitarianism: Critical Essays. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Collection of ten articles from leading moral philosophers. The essays reappraise Mill’s contribution to utilitarianism, examining the ways in which his moral thought raises issues relating to rights, justice, fairness, obligations, and the good.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Influential argument for why utilitarianism cannot be used to support principles of justice. Rawls presents contract theory as an alternative to utilitarianism, and proposes that justice is the most appropriate moral basis for a democratic society. Includes commentary on Bentham and Mill throughout. (Reissue of the 1971 first edition, more frequently cited in secondary literature than the revised 1999 edition).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Strasser, Mark Philip. The Moral Philosophy of John Stuart Mill: Toward Modifications of Contemporary Utilitarianism. Wakefield, NH: Longwood Academic, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Examines the moral system advanced in On Liberty and Utilitarianism, arguing they do not present contradictory positions on rights and the protection from interference, but instead distinguish between a “theory of moral worth” and a “theory of moral obligation” (p. xvi).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Empire, Race, and Nation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A notable body of work has reappraised the history of 19th-century political thought in relation to the history of imperialism, with especial reference to India, Ireland, and Jamaica. One of the main critical controversies concerns the extent to which liberalism, and Mill in particular, was complicit in British imperial domination. Some critics argue that Mill’s belief in national character and the superiority of European nations legitimates the expansion of empire, while others suggest that his views on economic progress and stagnation present a more complex picture of the relationship between empire, racialist thinking, and ideas about nationhood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Liberal Imperialism

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mehta 1999 is an influential proponent of the argument for the complicity of liberals in imperialism. Levin 2004 offers a similar interpretation in terms of Mill’s account of civilization and barbarism, and Pitts 2005 identifies a break from skepticism about European expansion to support for imperial rule in liberalism. The essays in Schultz and Varouxakis 2005 present the more favorable view in relation to utilitarian thinking. See also Utilitarianism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Levin, Michael. J. S. Mill on Civilization and Barbarism. London: Frank Cass, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Places On Liberty in the context of wider debates about civilization and modernity, and discusses Mill’s concern with societal and individual development and the stagnation of British civilization. Focuses on his opinions of imperialism and social progress, and seeks to complicate our understanding of the history of 19th-century liberalism and of Mill as a liberal thinker.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Mehta, Uday Singh. Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Important consideration of the responses of liberal thinkers to the challenge posed by empire. Argues that British liberals denied the risks and possibilities of different models of human experience in favor of universalism, and therefore liberalism is not only compatible with, but also justifies the legitimacy of, empire. Suggests Edmund Burke possessed a clearer and deeper understanding of the stakes of empire than the 19th-century Liberals.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Pitts, Jennifer. A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Traces the break between critics of empire such as Adam Smith and Edmund Burke and the emergence of new justifications of empire in the utilitarian and liberal thought of Bentham, James and John Stuart Mill, and Alexis de Tocqueville. Pitts proposes that Mill initiates the liberal “turn to empire,” and suggests it contains a racialist strand of thinking.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Schultz, Bart, and Georgios Varouxakis, eds. Utilitarianism and Empire. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Explores the utilitarian engagement with questions of race and empire, focusing on figures such as Bentham, James and J. S. Mill, Spencer, and Sidgwick. Offers an account of the links between utilitarianism and empire that seeks to challenge the simplistic understanding of utilitarianism’s complicity in British imperial domination.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      India

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The broad significance of India for debates about imperial policy is explored in Stokes 1959, which develops the argument of Halévy 1960 (cited under Utilitarianism). Zastoupil 1994 and Tunick 2006 consider Mill’s position at the East India Company and its importance for his defense of imperial rule. Moir, et al. 1999 assesses Mill’s work for the East India Company and its relevance to broader strands of utilitarianism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Moir, Martin, Douglas Peers, and Lynn Zastoupil, eds. J. S. Mill’s Encounter with India. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A collection of essays on Mill’s work for the East India Company, which contains analyses of his draft dispatches in relation to his major writings on political philosophy and economics, and offers perspectives on his approach to issues in India including religion, law, education, and security.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Stokes, Eric. The English Utilitarians and India. Oxford: Clarendon, 1959.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Investigates the ways in which utilitarianism was brought to bear on British imperial policy in India as an abstract and a practical philosophy. Argues that authoritarian rather than liberal elements of utilitarianism shaped land tax policy and property rights, law and government, and the penal code of British India.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Tunick, Mark. “Tolerant Imperialism: John Stuart Mill’s Defense of British Rule in India.” Review of Politics 68.4 (2006): 586–611.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/S0034670506000246Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Appraises Mill’s argument for imperialism in the context of his social and political writings, and his career at the East India Company. Argues that he “works out the tension between liberty and moral development in his writings about British rule in India by defending tolerant imperialism” (p. 611).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Zastoupil, Lynn. John Stuart Mill and India. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Reconstructs Mill’s administrative career in the East India Company. Shows how Mill was influenced by a group of Indian administrators whose views differed from those of his father and can be linked to the Whig tradition. Suggests that an examination of these influences sheds new light on European intellectuals and imperialism, illuminating a pattern of influence that stems from India to Europe.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ireland

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Black 1968 and Steele 1970 present contrasting views of the radicalism of Mill’s position on Ireland, while Zastoupil 1983 examines the issue of moral improvement. Kinzer 2001 is a comprehensive investigation of the various dimensions of Mill’s thinking on Ireland in relation to England. Corbett 2000 and Maurer 2012 discuss the Anglo-Irish relationship in literary contexts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Black, R. D. Collison. “Economic Policy in Ireland and India in the Time of J. S. Mill.” Economic History Review 21.2 (1968): 321–336.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Argues that Mill took a radical view on economic conditions in Ireland, against many contemporary English economists, in proposing that land reforms were essential for Ireland’s economic development.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Corbett, Mary Jean. Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790–1870: Politics, History and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511484766Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Explores representations of the relationship between Ireland and England, focusing on “how the family…is figured as the prime agent for establishing English colonial hegemony in Ireland” (p. 16). The final chapter discusses Mill and Arnold in relation to the Union in the 1860s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Kinzer, Bruce. England’s Disgrace?: J. S. Mill and the Irish Question. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An in-depth study of Mill’s life-long engagement with British-Irish politics. Discusses the Irish famine, the question of land reform, the controversy over higher education, and the Fenian challenge. Kinzer argues that Mill’s perspective on the condition of Ireland was revealing for its orientation toward the condition of England.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Maurer, Sara L. The Dispossessed State: Narratives of Ownership in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Important new study of Anglo-Irish debates about property and land rights, which explores the “revolution in thinking about property” as a “revolution in thinking about the state” (p. 1). Includes a chapter on Mill’s thinking about the Irish property question as well as a chapter about literary property.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Steele, E. D. “J. S. Mill and the Irish Question: Reform, and the Integrity of the Empire, 1865–1870.” Historical Journal 13.3 (1970): 419–450.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In contrast to Black 1968, Steele suggests that Mill was less radical on the “Irish Question” and more ambivalent about government interference, and that his enthusiasm for reform was guided by a belief in the economic advantages of the Union and of the Empire.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Zastoupil, Lynn. “Moral Government: J. S. Mill on Ireland.” Historical Journal 26.3 (1983): 707–717.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S0018246X00021130Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Focuses on the articles written by Mill for the Morning Chronicle during the Famine to explain how he argued for “the moral development of the Irish national character” and “good government for Ireland” (p. 708).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jamaica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hall 2002 is the major work on the subject, an impressively researched contribution to the history of colonialism that provides a new framework for understanding the Morant Bay uprising and the resulting controversy surrounding Governor Eyre. Kostal 2005 provides a related account of the legal implications of the Morant Bay uprising. Goldberg 2000 and Levy 2001 discuss the ramifications of Carlyle’s attack in “The Negro Question” for racial and economic discourses, and for Mill’s involvement with the Jamaica Committee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Goldberg, David Theo. “Liberalism’s Limits: Carlyle and Mill on ‘The Negro Question.’” Nineteenth-Century Contexts: An Interdisciplinary Journal 22.2 (2000): 203–216.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/08905490008583508Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Considers Carlyle’s “Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question” and Mill’s response on “The Negro Question” in Fraser’s Magazine. Golberg suggests the acrimonious exchange reveals the “excesses and limits of nineteenth century racialized discourse” (p. 203).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Hall, Catherine. Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination, 1830–1867. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An in-depth historical study of Jamaica and Birmingham in the period between 1830 and 1867 that traces changes in racial thinking from the idea of a universal family that fueled missionary zeal to a vocabulary of biological difference. Hall explores the self-making efforts of empire and includes commentary on Mill, specifically his views on the abolition debate and the benefits of colonization, and his trenchant criticism of Governor Eyre.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Kostal, R. W. A Jurisprudence of Power: Victorian Empire and the Rule of Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                An examination of the 1865 Morant Bay uprising in Jamaica, often called the “Governor Eyre controversy,” as a legal event in English politics. Argues that questions of legality shaped the perceptions of the event itself and the worldview of the English “political” classes, and raised issues about the moral and legal integrity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Levy, David M. How the Dismal Science Got Its Name: Classical Economics and the Ur-Text of Racial Politics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Places Carlyle’s essay in the context of idealizations of racial slavery and contrasts it with the egalitarian systems proposed by classical economists.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Government and Reform

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The process through which Mill worked out his ideas about electoral reform and political representation is outlined in Burns 1968. Hall, et al. 2000 focuses on the history of the Second Reform Act, and on its significance for debates about citizenship. Both Harvie 1976 and Kinzer, et al. 1992 explore Mill’s positions on key events in the decade leading up to the act. Thompson 1976 and Urbinati 2002 take a more philosophical approach, analyzing Mill’s ideas about political representation and suggesting their relevance to contemporary views of democracy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Burns, J. H. “J. S. Mill and Democracy, 1829–1861.” In Mill: A Collection of Critical Essays. Edited by J. B. Schneewind, 280–328. London: Macmillan, 1968.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Outlines the development of Mill’s argument for representative government in three phases, defined by his contribution to the Westminster Review, his defense of the French Revolution of 1848, and the publication of Representative Government. Suggests that Mill’s argument relies on a distinction between true and false democracy, and between democracy and representative government.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Hall, Catherine, Keith McClelland, and Jane Rendall. Defining the Victorian Nation: Class, Race, Gender and the British Reform Act of 1867. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Places the 1867 Reform Act in the wider context of Victorian constructions of nation and identity. McClelland explores the kind of man that was brought into being as a citizen by the act, and Rendall discusses the relationship between gender and nation, while Hall considers empire as a framework for the nation that was being imagined in 1867.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Harvie, Christopher. The Lights of Liberalism: University Liberals and the Challenge of Democracy, 1860–86. London: Allen Lane, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Exploration of the role of academic liberals in political debates from Second Reform Bill of 1867 to Home Rule of 1886. Includes discussion of the Oxford Movement, Italian unification, and the American Civil War, and the university system of education. Appendices provide supplementary material on membership of important liberal societies, and Oxford academic candidates in the election contests of 1868–1892.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Kinzer, Bruce L., Ann P. Robson, and John M. Robson. A Moralist in and Out of Parliament: John Stuart Mill at Westminster, 1865–1868. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Detailed study of Mill’s tenure as a member of parliament and his positions on electoral reform, Ireland and the question of a secular university, Jamaica and the campaign against Governor Eyre, and women’s suffrage. Includes valuable analysis of the elections of 1865 and 1868, and Mill’s parliamentary speeches.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Thompson, Dennis F. John Stuart Mill and Representative Government. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Detailed study of the structure and argument of Representative Government. Proposes that Mill’s theory of government is a theory of democracy and rests on the principles of participation and competence as well as a theory of social development.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Urbinati, Nadia. Mill on Democracy: From the Athenian Polis to Representative Government. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Systematic examination of Mill as a political theorist that draws attention to the debate over the “liberty of the ancients” and the “liberty of the moderns” (p. 2). Demonstrates how Mill saw Athenian democracy as the framework for a modern system of representative government, and why this system required “deliberative competence” from the people and “skilled competence” (p. 8) from political representatives.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Subjection of Women and Feminism

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The second wave of the feminism in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in a focus on Victorian myths of “woman,” including the significance of Mill’s writings on sexual equality with respect to marriage and female suffrage. Millett 1970 represents a key essay in this context, exploring the revolutionary nature of Mill’s views on sexual equality in contrast to the paternalistic view of Ruskin. Cain 1978 presents a much more critical view of Mill, which draws out the contradiction between his political theory of equality and his practical response to the women’s movement. These essays can be taken as characteristic of subsequent literature, which tends to either find Mill’s conception of women faulty, as in the case of Zerilli 1994, or laud his argument for the liberation of women, as in Lonoff 1986 and Mayhall 2001. An alternative approach is suggested in Hekman 1992 and, more recently, Mann and Spinner-Halev 2010, which seek the middle ground between these positions by identifying the problems raised by Mill’s view of women while pointing to its value within the liberal project. Shanley 1998 provides a useful review of Mill’s stated position on marriage, and is a good introduction to the topic. See also On Liberty and Utilitarianism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Cain, Barbara. “John Stuart Mill and the English Women’s Movement.” Historical Studies 18.70 (1978): 52–61.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/10314617808595576Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Explores Mill’s attitude toward the women’s movement in the second half of the period, in particular the involvement of women in their own emancipation. Argues that Mill’s assertion of equality for women failed in practice when he faced women leaders of the suffrage moment, and that his belief in the importance of the vote shows a misunderstanding of the position of women in the 19th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hekman, Susan. “John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women: The Foundations of Liberal Feminism.” History of European Ideas 15.4–6 (1992): 681–686.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/0191-6599(92)90078-QSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Explores the contradiction at the heart of Mill’s feminism between his liberal belief in equality and his discussion of woman’s different “nature.” Suggests that Mill might serve as an example of how to reconcile the conflicting impulses of egalitarian and difference feminism in current thought.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Lonoff, Sue. “Cultivated Feminism: Mill and The Subjection of Women.” Philological Quarterly 65.1 (Winter 1986): 79–102.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues against recent criticism of Mill and suggests he was a disciplined, theoretical feminist who sought to effect social change through his theory. Focuses on the language and structure of Mill’s argument to show his development of a theory of social progress that both explains the subjection of women and promises their future liberation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Mann, Hollie, and Jeff Spinner-Halev. “John Stuart Mill’s Feminism: On Progress, the State, and the Path to Justice.” Polity 42.2 (2010): 244–270.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1057/pol.2009.17Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Explores the relationship between justice and the family, placing Subjection in the context of Mill’s theory of progress and ideas about equality. Argues that Mill’s feminism and liberalism are connected through the notion of progress, which makes changes in the family necessary for justice and equality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Mayhall, Laura E. Nym. “The Rhetorics of Slavery and Citizenship: Suffragist Discourse and Canonical Texts in Britain, 1880–1914.” Gender & History 13.3 (November 2001): 481–497.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/1468-0424.00240Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Reads Mill’s text in concert with Giuseppe Mazzini’s The Duties of Man. Argues that the dialogue between these texts allowed suffragists to think differently about women in the political realm, in part because both texts draw on the idea of slavery and tyranny in order to talk about women in the public and political, rather than merely the private, sphere.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Millett, Kate. “The Debate over Women: Ruskin versus Mill.” Victorian Studies 14.1 (1970): 63–82.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Takes Ruskin’s “Of Queen’s Gardens” from Sesame and Lilies (1865) and Mill’s Subjection as the “central documents of sexual politics in the Victorian period” (p. 63). Discusses their views on female education, domesticity, and marriage, and suggests that the debate about women remains divided between the kind of conservative approach that Ruskin espoused and the radical position that Mill adopted.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Shanley, Mary Lyndon. “The Subjection of Women.” In The Cambridge Companion to Mill. Edited by John Skorupski, 396–422. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521419875Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Reviews Mill’s ideas about “marital slavery” and “marital friendship” in the context of liberal political theory and English and American law. Reads the text as a manifesto for equal rights for men and women and, more broadly, an argument for the importance of friendship in marriage and other forms of social life.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Zerilli, Linda M. G. Signifying Woman: Culture and Chaos in Rousseau, Burke, and Mill. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Proposes that “woman” is a discursive site that constitutes the margins of the political. Argues that Rousseau, Burke, and Mill express crisis through “woman” as a signifier of gender and class difference, and especially by figuring dread as disorderly woman and solace as the proper feminine.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Autobiography

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Despite the recent growth of interest in autobiography and life writing, there are few in-depth studies of Mill’s Autobiography. Landow 1979 is a valuable collection of essays on the interpretive challenges that autobiography presents. Loesberg 1986 reflects on these challenges through a comparative reading of Mill and Newman, while Danahay 1993 contextualizes autobiography via theories of individuality and community. Machann 1994 considers Victorian biography as a historical genre. By contrast, Peltason 1988 uses the Autobiography to trace the importance of the imagination in Mill’s writing. Jaffe 2010 explores an economic and emotional discourse of affect that links the Victorian novel to the stock market.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Danahay, Martin A. A Community of One: Masculine Autobiography and Autonomy in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Psychoanalytic study that draws on feminist criticism to show how “‘autobiography’ . . . depends on a set of assumptions that are coterminous with the ideals of individualism” (p. 11). Suggests writers, including Mill, use feminized others to express their distance from, and longing for, community.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Jaffe, Audrey. The Affective Life of the Average Man: The Victorian Novel and the Stock-Market Graph. Athens, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The final chapter uses the contemporary field of happiness economics to consider the costs and benefits of happiness with reference to Mill’s Autobiography and Dickens’s David Copperfield.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Landow, George P., ed. Approaches to Victorian Autobiography. Athens, OH: University of Ohio Press, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This collection covers approaches to Victorian autobiography, individual autobiographers, and autobiography and “autobiographicality.” Includes an essay by Howard Helsinger that considers Mill, Darwin, and Spencer as examples of the autobiographer as natural historian.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Loesberg, Jonathan. Fictions of Consciousness: Mill, Newman, and the Reading of Victorian Prose. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interprets autobiography as a “transitional discourse” (p. 1) between philosophy and narrative. Discusses the differences between Mill’s philosophic project and Newman’s religious doctrine, and develops a generalized methodology for reading nonfiction Victorian prose.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Machann, Clinton. The Genre of Autobiography in Victorian Literature. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Surveys eleven Victorian biographies in chronological order from Newman to Galton, and suggests structural similarities in their plotting of self-development. Chapter 2 is on Mill’s Autobiography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Peltason, Timothy. “Imagination and Learning in George Eliot, Mill, and Dickens.” Essays in Criticism 38.1 (1988): 35–54.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/eic/XXXVIII.1.35Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Compares Middlemarch and Hard Times to Mill’s Autobiography, and includes substantial discussion of Mill’s “case for the humbler realities of the bodily, the everyday, the practical” (p. 39) against the logical and rigidly utilitarian mode of education he received from his father.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Comparative Studies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          These works represent older models of scholarship on the intellectual influences between Mill and some of the leading figures of the age. Neff 1924, an early study, is useful in addressing the intellectual importance of both Carlyle and Mill, while Alexander 1965 and Turk 1988 explore the philosophical connections between Mill and Arnold, and between Mill and Coleridge. Duncan 1973 provides a valuable analysis of Mill and Marx in terms of their theories of society, and Eisenach 1981 assesses Mill’s importance to a distinctively English liberal tradition. Kahan 1992 uses the intellectual affiliations and exchanges between Mill, Tocqueville, and Burckhardt to outline a debate over conformity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Alexander, Edward. Matthew Arnold and John Stuart Mill. New York: Columbia University Press, 1965.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Investigates the similarities and differences between Arnold’s humanism and Mill’s liberalism, and suggests they share in the endeavor to synthesize the world into a unified whole, yet reach opposing conclusions about the best means to ensure the welfare of society.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Duncan, Graeme Campbell. Marx and Mill: Two Views of Social Conflict and Social Harmony. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1973.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An important analysis of Marx and Mill, looking at their different interpretations of the forces of social change, the sources of social stability and conflict, and the nature and proximity of alternative future social organization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Eisenach, Eldon J. Two Worlds of Liberalism: Religion and Politics in Hobbes, Locke, and Mill. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Argues against the conception of liberalism as a doctrine of natural liberty and individual interest, and draws attention to an alternative tradition of English liberalism founded on religious belief, collective loyalties, and self-sacrifice. Seeks to recover this tradition of liberalism via interpretation of the work of Hobbes, Locke, and Mill.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Kahan, Alan S. Aristocratic Liberalism: The Social and Political Thought of Jacob Burckhardt, John Stuart Mill, and Alexis de Tocqueville. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Identifies a discourse of modernity that originates from the French Revolution and develops into 19th-century European liberal thought. Argues that this “aristocratic liberalism” consists in the shared distaste of Burckhardt, Mill, and Tocqueville for the middle classes and masses, their contempt for mediocrity, and their prioritization of individuality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Neff, Emery. Carlyle and Mill, Mystic and Utilitarian. New York: Columbia University Press, 1924.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Locates Carlyle and Mill in the context of economic, political, and intellectual changes, and sees both figures as representative of the age who offered different responses to the changing conditions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Turk, Christopher. Coleridge and Mill: A Study of Influence. Aldershot, UK: Avebury, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Faithful study that outlines the importance of Coleridge to Mill and the ways in which Mill disseminated Coleridge’s ideas. Suggests that Mill’s integration of Coleridge’s idealism into his utilitarianism represents a new Victorian outlook.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      New Economic and Ethical Criticism

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Since 2000, two key strands of literary work have emerged that speak to the ethical and the economic dimensions of Mill’s writing and their import for narrative strategies in, and reading practices of, the novel. Heydt 2006 establishes the importance of Mill’s ethical life for prose fiction, and Wainwright 2007 identifies a modern form of ethics in the 19th-century novel, whereas Miller 2008 includes brief references to Mill but focuses on the ethics within fictional narratives. Keen 2010 combines contemporary ethical thought with cognitive science and psychology in a sustained analysis of empathy. Gagnier 2000, Gallagher 2006, Poovey 2008, and Blake 2009 contribute to what is often called “new economic criticism.” Gagnier 2000 and Poovey 2008 offer wide-ranging interpretations of the intersections between economic and literary writing and the construction of systems of value, while Gallagher 2006 and Blake 2009 (also cited under Political Economy) enlarge upon the significance of utility and sensation for the novel’s participation in economic debates. See also On Liberty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Blake, Kathleen. Pleasures of Benthamism: Victorian Literature, Utility, Political Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563265.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Important reinterpretation of Bentham and his relevance to “literature-and-liberalism” and “liberal-and-imperialism.” Includes chapters on Dickens and utility, Eliot and pains, and Gaskell and time, Mill’s doctrine of laissez-faire, and Mill as a liberal imperialist.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Gagnier, Regina. The Insatiability of Human Wants: Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Identifies the parallels between Victorian discourses of economics and aesthetics, and isolates the shift from models of production to models of consumption in 1871. Contends that tensions in the conception of “economic man” (p. 19) from Smith to Mill were resolved in the new conception of “modern man” as “the universal man of insatiable wants” (p. 20) proposed by Jevons and Mengs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Gallagher, Catherine. The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Focuses on the body as a locus of social issues relating to “bioeconomics” and “somaeconomics” (p. 3). Contends that 19th-century novels, especially by Dickens and Eliot, were shaped by the organicist ideas of political economy on life, death, and sensation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Heydt, Colin. “Narrative, Imagination, and the Religion of Humanity in Mill’s Ethics.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 44.1 (2006): 99–115.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/hph.2006.0011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Explores the relationship between the Comtean idea of a Religion of Humanity and the role of the imagination in shaping Mill’s understanding of an ethical life. Shows how Mill modifies Comte’s emphasis on the role of art in the idealization of humanity to provide a description of “the drama of human history” (p. 102) in which the individual works with others for the good of humanity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Keen, Suzanne. Empathy in the Novel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Questions established ideas about the movement from identification to empathy to altruism in novel reading. Keen contends that “fictional worlds provide safe zones” for readers that do not result in real action but, paradoxically, enable “sympathy, outrage, pity, righteous indignation, and . . . shared joy and satisfaction” (p. 4). First published in 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Miller, Andrew H. The Burdens of Perfection: On Ethics and Reading in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A challenging account of narratives of improvement and moral perfectionism, especially but not exclusively in the novel. Argues that “the typical narrative structure of moral perfectionism takes us from skepticism to second-person relations” (p. xii), and both produces powerful forms of attachment and cultivates such dispositions as helplessness, knowingness, and shame.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Poovey, Mary. Genres of the Credit Economy: Mediating Value in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226675213.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues that economic writing and literary writing share “an engagement with the problematic of representation” (p. 5), primarily in their forms of expressing value, and principally via classification and ranking. Includes key discussion of Mill in a chapter on the popularizers of political economy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Wainwright, Valerie. Ethics and the English Novel from Austen to Forster. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Reinterprets Victorian ethics as an ethics of modernity in which personal flourishing is “an active and expansive form of well-being for both men and women” (p. 2). Shows how novelists such as Dickens, Eliot, and Hardy engage with moral philosophy to explore different ways of living a worthy and rewarding life. Chapter 4 examines the liberal ethic of Gaskell and Mill.

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