Mill and Paternalism

Mill and Paternalism

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Many discussions of J. S. Mill's concept of liberty focus too narrowly on On Liberty and fail to acknowledge that his treatment of related issues elsewhere may modify its leading doctrines. Mill and Paternalism demonstrates how a contextual reading suggests that in Principles of Political Economy, and also his writings on Ireland, India and on domestic issues like land reform, Mill proposed a substantially more interventionist account of the state than On Liberty seems to imply. This helps to explain Mill's sympathies for socialism after 1848, as well as his Malthusianism and feminism, which, in conjunction with Harriet Taylor's views, are central to his later discussions of the family and marriage. Feminism, indeed, is shown to provide the answer to the problem which most agitated Mill, overpopulation. Thus Gregory Claeys sheds new lights on many of Mill's overarching preoccupations, including the theory of liberty at the heart of On Liberty.show more

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Review quote

'Mill's On Liberty has been all-too successful with philosophers and political theorists in achieving his goal of writing a 'philosophic textbook of a single truth'. In this comprehensive reassessment of Mill's career as social and political commentator, Gregory Claeys shows how Mill's single truth on the limits of interference in individual lives needs to be modified when the equally urgent concerns of his political economy, feminism, and interest in socialism are brought into the reckoning.' Donald Winch, University of Sussex 'Mill scholars, intellectual historians and anyone interested in social and political philosophy would enjoy reading this book. Claeys prompts us to rethink received interpretations of Mill's theory of liberty, and shows that the history of political thought is not only an inexhaustible, but also a fascinating field of study that can enrich our political understanding and make us wiser citizens.' Stamatoula Panagakou, Political Studies Reviewshow more

About Gregory Claeys

Gregory Claeys is Professor of the History of Political Thought at Royal Holloway, University of London. His previous publications include Imperial Sceptics: British Critics of Empire, 1850-1920 (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Citizens and Saints: Politics and Anti-Politics in Early British Socialism (Cambridge University Press, 1989). He also edited The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2011) with Gareth Stedman Jones, and The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2010).show more

Table of contents

Introduction: Mill, liberty, and paternalism: context, intention and interpretation; 1. Intervention, progress and the state - domestic and foreign; 2. Mill, socialism and collective autonomy; 3. Rethinking On Liberty: superstition, expediency, and family values; Conclusion: the aims of liberty and paternalism: equal association and radical meritocracy.show more

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