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John Stuart Mill

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Here’s a good exposition of his ideas. By Robert Vienneau.

No wonder J. S. Mill ranks way up there among the classical economists.


Written by Orlando Roncesvalles

November 23, 2010 at 3:42 PM

Posted in history of economic thought

Tagged with

“of playthings, I had scarcely…absence of love and in the presence of fear.”

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John Stuart Mill was born on May 20, 1806. His father, James Mill, was the most influential person in his life, he act as teacher of his son. Aside from this, his friends, Jeremy Bentham and David Ricardo, who were Utilitarian philosophers, had something to do with the knowledge of John Stuart Mill. And that he become familiar with the ideas and principles of the two, one of which states that the “good of society lies in that which brings the greatest benefit to the largest without.” He gained lots of knowledge at an early age through wide reading and with his father as a strict disciplinarian. At ages 3-13, he studied Greek, Latin, arithmetic, geometry, algebra, chemistry, physics, logic and political economy. He started writing articles at the age of 17 for the Westminster Review. By the age of 20 he had a nervous breakdown and restored by his discovering of beauty, art, music and poetry, all of which had been omitted by his father. For 35 years, he entered the examiner’s office of the East India, a trading monopoly with political authority over India. For 3 years, he served in the House of Commons, where he stood with the Radicals, principally on the extension of the right to vote, proposed women’s suffrage, proportional representation and land reform in Ireland. The one who supported him throughout his adult life was  Harriet Taylor, whom he married after the death of Taylor’s husband. They had a daughter named, Helen. He was just free from office for 15 years, but 3 years of these was spent as a member of the House of Commons. He died on May 8, 1873 in Avignon, France at the age of 67. From his short biography that I have researched, I can really tell that his childhood life or entire of his life was just spent for stuff that enriches his mind and that made him to have some influential contributions in economics. He had this quote that I made a title above, because all of what he did in his life was just be there in a corner and enhance more of what he got, not expecting to have what he had in his life and to the society.

One of his major contribution in economics is Utilitarianism, which means the principle or doctrine of ethics proclaiming that what is useful is good and that usefulness can be rationally determined. Bentham and Mill both have their own famous formulations of utilitarianism, the greatest-happiness principle (quantitative approach) and qualitative approach, respectively. The principle of Bentham holds that one must always act so as to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. He treats all forms of happiness as equal. In this principle, Bentham’s trying to say that the more number of people satisfied or happy, certainly that gives the greatest utility or happiness to others, and that he said resources must be allocated on that utility. While Mill argues that intellectual and moral pleasures are superior to more physical forms of pleasure, and that what he means to say is, greatest happiness comes when you get something that is worthy, eduacational or that something has high level of satisfaction. Even though, people are happy to simple things but its happiness is irreplaceable, memorable and just being so different among all pleasures, it yields the greatest happiness.



Encyclopedia Americana

Written by megzdquiet1

March 17, 2009 at 11:54 AM