John Stuart Mill And Utilitarianism

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During the mid-nineteenth century in Great Britain, the industrial revolution was in full swing and ideas were beginning to exponentially grow. These philosophical and practical ideas changed the way people thought, worked, and lived their everyday life. A few of the many ideas and inventions that arose were the railroad, steam power, powered machines, and utilitarianism. Utilitarianism was coined by John Stuart Mill and has been a popular way of thinking for over a century. In this paper, I will argue that John Stuart Mill’s idea of utilitarianism provides citizens with freedom along with a strong protection of their rights, and without it people would be oppressed by their government.
On May 20th in 1806, John Stuart Mill was born in Pentonville, England, which was a suburb just outside of London. From the very young age of three years John’s father, James Mill, began his rigorous education. Up until the age of eight, Mill was studying Greek, English, and Arithmetic. By the time he was eight years old, he was studying Latin. John’s father knew that his son was intelligent as a toddler, and he even mentions it in his biography. James writes, “When I received your letter on Monday, John, who is so desirous to be your inmate, was in the room, and observed me smiling as I read it. This excited his curiosity to know what it was about. I said it was Mr. Bentham asking us to go to Barrow Green. He desired to read that. I gave it to him to see what he would say, when he began, as if reading- Why have you not come to Barrow Green, and brought John with you?” This letter written by his father not only represents a precious father-son moment, but also shows the curiosity and desire to learn in the young John Stuart Mill’s behavior.

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...l teaches:
The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.
Statements like these are what radically changed the typical way of thinking during the industrial revolution and paved the way for the individuality that we enjoy today. As a result of Utilitarianism, women are allowed to vote and we do not have to be worried about an oppressive and controlling government. John Stuart Mill is not just leaving the legacy of being a philosopher, but as a true visionary for the rights and liberty of all humans.
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