John Stuart Mill
20, 1806 - May 8, 1873), aka JS Mill, an English philosopher and
political economist, was the most influential liberal thinker of the
19th century. He was an advocate of utilitarianism, the ethical theory
first proposed by his godfather Jeremy Bentham.
John Stuart Mill was born in Pentonville, London, the eldest son of
James Mill. Mill was educated by his father, with the advice and
assistance of Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place. He was given an
extremely rigorous upbringing, and was deliberately shielded from
association with boys his own age. His father, a follower of Bentham and
an adherent of associationism, had as his explicit aim to create a
genius intellect that would carry on the cause of utilitarianism and its
implementation after he and Bentham were dead.
His feats as a child were exceptional; at the age of three he was taught
the Greek alphabet and long lists of Greek words with their English
equivalents. By the age of eight he had read Aesop's Fables, Xenophon's
Anabasis, and the whole of Herodotus, and was acquainted with Lucian,
Diogenes Laėrtius, Isocrates and six dialogues of Plato (see his
Autobiography). He had also read a great deal of history in English and
had been taught arithmetic.
A contemporary record of Mill's studies from eight to thirteen is
published in Bain's sketch of his life. It suggests that his
autobiography rather understates the amount of work done. At the age of
eight he began learning Latin, Euclid, and algebra, and was appointed
schoolmaster to the younger children of the family. His main reading was
still history, but he went through all the Latin and Greek authors
commonly read in the schools and universities at the time. He was not
taught to compose either in Latin or in Greek, and he was never an exact
scholar; it was for the subject matter that he was required to read, and
by the age of ten he could read Plato and Demosthenes with ease. His
father's History of India was published in 1818; immediately thereafter,
about the age of twelve, John began a thorough study of the scholastic
logic, at the same time reading Aristotle's logical treatises in the
original language. In the following year he was introduced to political
economy and studied Adam Smith and David Ricardo with his
father--ultimately completing their classical economic view of factors
Mill worked for the British East India Company, but he was also a
Liberal member of Parliament. Mill advocated easing the burdens on
Ireland, and basically worked for what he considered reason. In
Considerations on Representative Government Mill called for various
reforms of Parliament and voting, especially proportional representation
and the extension of suffrage.
In 1851 Mill married Harriet Taylor after 21 years of friendship. Taylor
was a signficant influence on Mills's work and ideas during both
friendship and marriage. His relationship with Harriet Taylor inspired
Mill's advocacy of women's rights.
One foundational book on the concept of liberty was On Liberty, about
the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised
by society over the individual. One argument that Mill formed was the
harm principle, that is, people should be free to engage in whatever
behavior they wish as long as it does not harm others.
John Stuart Mill only speaks of negative freedom in On Liberty, a
concept formed and named by Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997). Isaiah Berlin
suggests that negative freedom is an absence or lack of impediments,
obstacles or coercion. This is in contrast with his other idea of
positive freedom, a capacity for behavior, and the presence of
conditions for freedom, be they material resources, a level of
enlightenment, or the opportunity for political participation.
Thus Mill argued that it is Government's role only to remove the
barriers, such as laws, to behaviors that do not harm others.
Mill's magnum opus was his System of Logic, which went through several
editions. There he evaluates Aristotle's categories and gives his own
system. He gives his theory of terms and propositions and focuses on the
inductive process. William Whewell's History of the Inductive Sciences
(1837) was a chief influence.
The reputation of this work is largely due to his analysis of inductive
proof, in contrast to Aristotle's syllogisms, which are deductive. Mill
formulates five methods of induction -- the method of agreement, the
method of difference, the joint or double method of agreement and
difference, the method of residues, and that of concomitant variations.
The common feature of these methods, the one real method of scientific
inquiry, is that of elimination. All the other methods are thus
subordinate to the method of difference.
* (1843) A System of Logic
* (1848) Principles of Political Economy
* (1859) On Liberty
* (1861) Utilitarianism
Subjection of Women 
* (1873) Autobiography (John Stuart Mill)