Essay on The Existence Of The Institution Of Government

Essay on The Existence Of The Institution Of Government

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In the first section of “Government” political theorist James Mill attempts to answer the question regarding the existence of the institution of government, as he believes that despite the abundance of literature regarding this topic, only few principles are well-established. Mill states that the reason for this is incorrect analysis, and existence of only a generalised conception, leading to endless disputes especially when deliberated upon.
Mill begins by stating that government is primarily a means to an end, the latter being described variedly, such as Locke’s “the public good,” and the utilitarian principle “the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers,” which he believes are fair, yet defective; and therefore, Mill writes that in order to understand collective happiness, the factors for the happiness of its individual members must be understood. Hence, in order to define this end, and establish a foundation for “the science of Government” human nature must be comprehensively studied.
In attempting to analyse human nature, Mill makes an assumption, which he deems necessary: the condition of a human being is based on the pleasurable and painful experiences they undergo, and their happiness is determined by the degree to which their pleasures outnumber their pains. Mill categorises the source of pains and pleasures produced into two — one, human factors, and two, natural factors, i.e., factors independent of human beings. The Government concerning itself with the first factor — increasing the pleasure and diminishing the pain that humans derive from each other.
The condition of human beings is dependent on nature for two reasons, which give rise to a large number of consequences — first, although the means of subsistence i...


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...Peace, Safety, and publick [sic] good of the People.”

Mill and Locke base the foundation of government to be human nature and the laws of nature, both of them agreeing that humans are selfish and the state of nature is that of anarchy and insufficient resources, due to which they form a union, referred to as “government.”
Mill’s theory lays foundation for the economic functions of a government, such distribution of wealth through taxes, labour rights and property rights. In this case, the end being “happiness” is a vague term, ironic that his criticisms of other defined ends of government is their vagueness.
Locke’s vision of government lays emphasis on its formation only upon voluntary mutual consent, and can be understood as a ‘night-watchman state’ where the function of government is to act only when there is a dispute between its members, laissez-faire in nature.

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