Fitzjames Stephen on Mill on Liberty

Henry Sidgwick

in Essays on Ethics and Method

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250234
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598432 | DOI:

Series: British Moral Philosophers

 Fitzjames Stephen on Mill on Liberty

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Sidgwick offers a largely unflattering review of Fitzjames Stephen's critique of Mill's On Liberty (presented in Stephen's Liberty, Equality, Fraternity). Sidgwick observes that, when discussing the legitimate influence of society over the individual, Stephen directs his argument against Mill and Comtism in turn, without seeming to notice that these thinkers hold opposing views on the issue. As a consequence, this generates inconsistencies in his position. Yet, despite the significant amount of wilful paradox and misplaced ingenuity in his work, Stephen does highlight the right arguments to challenge Mill's position in On Liberty. Here (but not in Representative Government), Mill seems to forget the essential limits of the utilitarian method by seeking to establish absolute practical maxims.

Keywords: Comtism; individual; Mill; On Liberty; practical maxim; Sidgwick; society; Fitzjames Stephen; utilitarianism

Chapter.  2202 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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