Lecture 7 - Mill: Utilitarianism and Liberty

author: Iván Szelényi, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: June 24, 2012,   recorded: September 2009,   views: 2786
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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Description

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

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Reviews and comments:

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

OMG STOP SAYING "RIGHT?" AFTER EVERY SENTENCE, Prof. Szelényi!!

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

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