John Stuart Mill was one of the most influential philosophers in Western thought and in the further development of psychology. In addition to being one of the referents of the last phase of the Enlightenment, many of his ethical and political approaches served to shape the goals of behavioral science and ideas about the idea of the mind.
Below we will do a brief review on John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian theory and his thinking.
Who was John Stuart Mill?
This philosopher was born in London in 1806. His father, James Mill, was a friend of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, and soon engaged his son in a harsh and demanding educational program to convert him into an intellectual. After leaving college due to a collapse, he devoted himself to working in the East India Company, as well as to writing.
In 1931 he started a friendship with Harriet Taylor, whom he married 20 years later. Harriet was a fighter for women’s rights and her influence was clearly reflected in the thinking of John Stuart Mill, who, as an advocate of the Enlightenment, believed in the principle of equality and his philosophy on the subject. liberal feminism that developed later.
From 1865 to 1868, John Stuart Mill he was deputy in London, And from that position, his philosophy gained even more visibility.
John Stuart Mill Theory
The main aspects of John Stuart Mill’s thinking are as follows.
1. The greatest good for the greatest number of people
Stuart Mill was heavily influenced by Jeremy Bentham, a good friend of the family. If Plato believed that the good was the truth, Bentham was a radical utilitarian and believed that the idea of the good was equivalent to the useful.
John Stuart Mill Didn’t Reach Bentham’s EndsBut he placed the idea of what was useful high in his philosophical system. By establishing what is morally correct, then, he has established that the greatest good is to be sought for the greatest number of people.
2. The idea of freedom
In order to achieve the above objective, people must have the freedom to establish what makes them happy and allows them to live well. Only in this way is it possible to create a moral system without a totalizing and imposed idea (and therefore contrary to the principles of the Enlightenment) of what is good.
3. The limits of freedom
To ensure that people’s personal happiness-seeking plans do not overlap and cause unfair harm, it is important avoid what directly harms the rest.
4. The sovereign subject
However, it is not easy to distinguish between a situation that benefits one person and a situation in which another loses. For this, John Stuart Mill locates a clear limit which must not be crossed by imposed wills: the body itself. Without a doubt, a bad thing is one that involves unwanted intrusion into a body or its health.
Thus, Stuart Mill establishes the idea that each person is sovereign over his own body and mind. However, the body is not the only thing in which a limit is created which cannot be crossed, but the minimum, the safe in all cases, whatever the context. There is another moral frontier: that posed by private property. This is considered to be an extension of the sovereign subject itself, Like the body.
Fixism is the idea that beings remain isolated from the context. It is a concept widely used in psychology and philosophy of mind, and one that John Stuart Mill defended although he does not use the word.
Fundamentally, considering that each person is sovereign over their body and mind is a way of establishing a conceptual framework in which the starting point is always the individual, who is related to what is beyond. or lose, but not change.
This idea is totally opposed, for example, to the behaviorist way of understanding human beings. Behaviorists, notably through BF Skinner’s contributions to this field, they believe that every person is the result of transactions between stimuli (what they perceive) and responses (what they do). In other words, they don’t exist in a way out of context.
Western countries of contemporary times. Part of an individualistic view of the human being and claims that by default nothing is bad if it does not flagrantly harm someone. However, ontologically, their conception of the human being is dualistic, which is why many psychologists, and behaviorists in particular, oppose it.