Lecture 7 - Mill: Utilitarianism and Liberty

author: Iván Szelényi, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: June 24, 2012,   recorded: September 2009,   views: 2792
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)

See Also:

Download Video - generic video source Download yalesocy151f09_szelenyi_lec07_01.mp4 (Video - generic video source 487.8 MB)

Download Video Download yalesocy151f09_szelenyi_lec07_01.flv (Video 210.9 MB)

Download Video Download yalesocy151f09_szelenyi_lec07_01_640x360_h264.mp4 (Video 126.3 MB)

Download Video Download yalesocy151f09_szelenyi_lec07_01.wmv (Video 191.0 MB)

Download subtitles Download subtitles: TT/XML, RT, SRT

Help icon Streaming Video Help

Related Open Educational Resources

Related content

Report a problem or upload files

If you have found a problem with this lecture or would like to send us extra material, articles, exercises, etc., please use our ticket system to describe your request and upload the data.
Enter your e-mail into the 'Cc' field, and we will keep you updated with your request's status.
Lecture popularity: You need to login to cast your vote.


Adam Smith's ideas about self-interest should be understood as a precursor in some ways to John Stuart Mill's thinking on utilitarianism. Professor Szelényi discusses, but does not resolve, the complexities of Adam Smith's moral and ethical positions staked out in The Theory of Moral Sentiments--including a focus on sympathy--and the most widespread economic interpretation of Smith and The Wealth of Nations that he is the economist of self-interest. One way to reconcile these so-called "two Smiths" is that, as social beings, it is in our self-interest to express benevolence and sympathy toward others. Mill, the student of Bentham since a very young age, humanizes the theory of utilitarianism. Perhaps he should be best remembered for his staunch views on liberty: liberty must never be compromised for the sake of expediency.

Reading assignment:

Mill, Utilitarianism, On Liberty

- Chapter 1, pp. 69-83
- Chapter 2, "What is utilitarianism," pp. 6-27
- Chapter 4, pp.143-162
- Chapter 5, "Of the connection between Justice and Utility," pp. 43-67

Mill, The Subjection of Women

Link this page

Would you like to put a link to this lecture on your homepage?
Go ahead! Copy the HTML snippet !

Reviews and comments:

Comment1 Dominick, July 31, 2014 at 10:24 p.m.:


This would be comical if it weren't so distracting :(

Write your own review or comment:

make sure you have javascript enabled or clear this field: