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New PDF release: Rereading Power and Freedom in J.S. Mill

By Bruce Baum

In his canonical textual content, "On Liberty", the English thinker and social reformer John Stuart Mill (1806-73) checked out the boundaries imposed through society and the nation on person freedom. Over 100 years later, Bruce Baum, in "Rereading energy and Freedom in J.S. Mill," exhibits how very important facets of Mill's idea of freedom were misinterpreted. the writer recovers misplaced dimensions of Mill's idea, and in so doing, contributes to a severe sociology of freedom for our time.

Drawing on Mill's concepts on liberty and tool scattered all through his quite a few texts on similar matters, Baum strikes past what Mill has to assert approximately freedom in "On Liberty." Baum discovers a constant goal at the back of Mill's advocacy of women's rights, common suffrage, parliamentary and academic reforms, and staff' co-operatives. while Mill is usually interpreted as an recommend of unfavourable liberty, Baum argues that Mill possesses a fancy concept of freedom that unifies the pursuit of non-public autonomy with the search for collective self-determination via an egalitarian, surely participatory democratic politics.

This insightful paintings lines new connections among Mill's liberalism and the later revisionist liberalisms of theorists similar to T.H. eco-friendly and John Dewey, in addition to among the liberal and socialist traditions. not just does it holiday new floor in its demonstration of the complementary courting among freedom and gear, it's the first complete learn of Mill's social and political proposal that heavily engages his feminism.

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Extra info for Rereading Power and Freedom in J.S. Mill

Sample text

Indeed, the way that Mill addresses the question of free will is crucial to his broader conception of freedom (Smith, 1980b; Skorupski, 1989, 250-5). Mill's view of 'free will' is close to what is now called a compatibilist view: he holds that human actions are causally determined, but that they can be free (Smith, 1991, 246; Foot, 1966). S. Mill their characters are produced by their circumstances. At the same time, he conceives of the connection between circumstances, on the one hand, and character and desires, on the other, as a contingent one that leaves room for freedom.

Mill's work also enables me to develop an effective liberal response to contemporary communitarian critiques of liberalism, such as that of Michael Sandel (1982, 1984, 1990). S. Mill from the traditions and relationships in which they are embedded. Yet Mill also recognizes that modern societies are characterized by a plurality of ideas of the good life, and argues persuasively that individuals should be free within limits to pursue their own good in their own way. His argument thus remains a strong counterpoint to communitarian longings for deeper bonds of 'community' - longings that promote more unitary views of how members of the community ought to live.

This problem is evident in an important passage from On Liberty that I quoted earlier. Mill says, 'To conform to custom, merely as custom, does not educate or develop in [a person] any of the qualities which are the distinctive endowment of a human being ... He who does anything because it is the custom, makes no choice' (OL, 262). In his view, anyone who does something 'because it is the custom' is not fully free because she or he is acting upon premises 'taken from authority, not from reason' (OL, 251).

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